Genevieve Vieira
2 minute read
23 Nov 2013
6:00 am

Merry gentlemen

Genevieve Vieira

When the White Collar Club, an all-male a capella group from Cape Town, walk into a room, they are easily noticed.

HANGING OUT. White Collar Club share a joke in the studio.
Picture: Supplied.

Clad in suits, ties and polished shoes, the eight men that make up this vocal ensemble are undoubtedly charming. Charming in the sense that they’re aesthetically pleasing to the eye, emotionally engaging and soulful on stage. Each, with his individual attributes, is the kind of man a girl can take home to their mother.

When asked if they live the lifestyle their image suggests when off the stage, they laugh.

“We’re just a group of ordinary guys.” says Geran Steyn.

“Some of us are students, so we don’t always feel the need to dress up, but it doesn’t mean we’re any less courteous.”

“A gentleman’s a gentleman even if wearing a trash bag,” Yati Khumalo adds. He has a point.

Do they see themselves as a boy band then?

“The perception of a boy band has garnered negative connotations over the years,” explains Jeremy Du Plessis, “but among the Zulus and Xhosas, group singing is seen as an uplifting community activity. It’s not cheesy, but rich and beautiful and we want to communicate that to the rest of the world.”

Watching the group seated around a table at the SABC, minutes after a performance on Morning Live, they’re clearly a jovial bunch, making jokes at each other’s expense, with my presence evidently no cause for restraint. The fact that Shiraz Jogee had ordered something to eat, a giant meal that will prove to be breakfast before breakfast, automatically makes him the main target. It’s amusing, their vigour for life, laughter and a sincere passion for what they do. They possess a flirtatious, persuasive quality.

So why the White Collar Club, a name and concept that appears to be an effort to set them apart from everyday folk?

“We started out as D7 in 2009 and enjoyed success. But we’re growing up now and we wanted to bring class into the band. We re-branded in 2013 because we realised the need to take things to the next level,” says Patrick Craig.

“We wanted to go from simply making music to artistry and developing a sense of integrity.”

“It’s not that we think we’re better than anyone else, or that we’ve become more affluent over the years,” says Du Plessis.

“It’s more of a mindset. People are always striving to be better and dream big and we want our music to help take them there.”

“We see it in pop culture, the way men are dressing and taking care of themselves, they want to be more,” says Khumalo.

The octet are made up of men from various parts of the world. Inspired by the likes of Donny Hathaway and Lauren Hill, White Collar Club bring something to the table for everyone to enjoy, regardless of different cultures and upbringings.

Du Plessis explains, “When you come to a White Collar Club performance, it’s the overall experience that counts. It’s not ‘us and them’, but a journey that we all take together and enjoy together. The experience continues even after we’ve stepped off stage.”