“House isn’t just a genre of music. It’s a culture. It’s rooted in community and togetherness and that unique and beautiful thing it is to be a young South African.” Holly Rey says emphatically.
You only need to witness the welcome she receives from fans to know the truth of that. Sharing her music is only part of the journey. It’s also about meeting fans and taking hands with them before gigs wherever possible.
Holly Rey is no casual visitor to House. She is a true believer, blazing her own trail in the genre that has replaced Kwaito as the sound of South Africa’s liberated generation. But she is also devoted to making a difference beyond the tinsel and glitter of showbiz.
In the year ‘Deeper’ launched, Holly Rey graduated from UKZN with an Honours Degree in Cultural Communications and Media Studies. To top that, she earned it cum laude.
Her struggle, from a young age, to rise in an environment where every door seemed barred has created a musician who is not only compassionate but also sees challenges as mere stepping stones to her dreams. It has also been an inspiration to a generation of Independent Artists who see their own stories of hard work and ambition reflected in her journey.
Holly Rey brought the SAMA Record of the Year Award home to Durban in 2019. She was the first female artist to hoist this crown in twenty years, and at 24, she feels this was only the beginning of her musical journey.
The late 2019 release of the EP ‘You’ drew rapturous reviews and has been praised for its measured lyricism. It bears all the gravitas and maturity of an artist who has grown to fit her musical genre and is ready to explore new horizons. Releasing an EP was a strategic move on the part of the popular songbird. As she explains: “I felt that if I released a full album it would take a lot of time and effort before I could get another on the shelves. I’m in a great place creatively right now and I want to be able to take new ideas and inspiration into the studio as often as possible.”
As the video for ‘Deeper’ climbs ever closer to 7 million views, Holly’s new work is gaining traction. It is clocking up serious airtime on domestic radio stations while her beats migrate northward lighting up broadcast booths from Livingstone to Kinshasa and further afield.
Performing is where Holly really comes into her own. Demand for live appearances, gigs and interviews have become an avalanche since the SAMA win. She did over 150 shows across the SADC region in 2019 even playing a slot at the Mzansi Festival in the United Kingdom in October. With the added dimension of stunning new material off the EP, her stage act has blossomed into a sound and motion feast for fans from Durban to Milton Keynes.
The single 'You' produced by Zimbabwean Producer, Murphy Cubic has held in the Top 20 songs on radio since late 2019 and might just earn her a second Nomination for Record Of The Year. It’s cracked almost every chart on both radio and Music TV Channel and is a fan favourite at live gigs.
Her collaboration, “Tonight” on DJ Sumbody’s album “Ashi Nthwela” has gained great traction in the Amapiano circles too. Some of the biggest names in the game are scrambling to collaborate with one of South Africa’s most respected songwriters. It’s a worn cliché, but Holly Rey’s amazing overnight success has only come as the result of a decade of hard work.
Her career to date is a masterclass in how to combine talent with integrity, professionalism and hard work to make dreams come true. A glance back at the milestones of her rise as an artist offers a glimpse of her determination, resilience and an unbounded passion for the music and the people she loves so very much.
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