The tough neighbourhood producing silky divas


South Africa’s most exciting big band comes from Delft. A suburb overrun by gangs has become a crucible for music. And its most precocious star is a local girl whose effervescent passion and voice have taken her onto the world’s biggest stages. She is Adelia Douw, lead singer of the Delft Big Band.

Douw began singing at the tender age of three, entertaining family and visitors in her mother’s living room. Well known for her voice in the community, she joined the Delft Big Band at the age of 16. The 20-piece band is led by renowned South African trumpeter Ian Smith, who founded the band in 2008 to empower vulnerable youth in the Delft area. They have found real success, performing at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and for audiences in Sweden and Beijing.

The band has taken Douw out of the confines of Delft and shown her the world. She is currently studying music at the Berklee School in Boston. A shy and quiet girl comes alive on stage with her sweet and silky vocals, wooing audiences from different parts of the globe.