And her Starring Role in The Greatest Love of All
Born 1976, Belinda Davids started life in the small coastal town of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, where her musical family of seven children spent much of its time in church, singing and surrounded by gospel music. Enduring youth as a ‘coloured’ girl in a difficult, apartheid-ridden South Africa, Belinda found solace and empowerment in music – it was an equalizer, of sorts, for someone so devoid of equality in her life and surroundings, an expression and a pastime that needed no resources, no special education, no permissions, just her own God-given voice.
Her talent was glaringly apparent from an early age. Still to this day she has never had vocal training and is blessed with a 4-octave vocal range, putting her in the company of such vocal luminaries as Mariah Carey, Freddie Mercury and Yma Sumac. She began performing professionally at just 14 years of age and technically she became adept at many genres but her true love has always been R&B. Her childhood inspirations ranged from Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Chaka Khan and Donny Hathaway to Michael Jackson and of course the one artist who has had the biggest impact on her life – Whitney Houston.
Belinda’s first introduction to her soon-to-be idol was via the track “Hold Me” which Houston recorded with Teddy Pendergrass, which became one of the first LPs Belinda ever owned. Belinda was innately drawn to Houston’s musical style, which was only natural considering their similar church upbringings and gospel influences. However, Whitney also became a symbol of hope to Belinda, of what it was possible to achieve as a woman of colour.
Belinda sang Whitney’s music at every chance: at family gatherings, talent competitions and to friends whilst playing on the street. Like many young girls at that time her bedroom walls were plastered with posters and magazine cut-outs of the icon. Whitney’s influence was so strong it inspired everything from Belinda’s dress sense to her hairstyles. She included Whitney covers in every one of her performances. As a young adult she joined the club circuit and her performances left many people amazed at how similar she sounded to the icon.
In the mid 90’s Belinda caught the eye of record executives at Tusk Records and they worked together on the eponymous original album Belinda Davids. Three of the songs on this album, which Belinda also wrote, were released as singles: “This I Swear,” “This Is My Life,” and “We Go Together.” The latter was number one on the RiSA charts in South Africa for six weeks.
Belinda promoted her album all over South Africa for a number of years at various hotels, clubs & cabarets. She was the opening act for many international artists when they visited South Africa including Michael Jackson’s History tour, The Manhattans, The Temptations and Peaches and Herbs.
Years after her debut album, Belinda decided to travel abroad to expand her music career, which took her to Dubai, London and Hong Kong to perform in major hotels and clubs. The influence of Whitney was still undeniable; during a performance at a hotel in Hong Kong the similarity was such that the audience stopped the concert and demanded she sing acapella to prove she wasn’t lip-syncing.
After many years on the road Belinda settled in Los Angeles in 2009 to focus on getting her solo career back on track. In L.A she collaborated with R&B singer and producer Sam Salter on a couple of solo tracks but the link between Belinda and Whitney was so strong that it hindered her solo career in the US. She encountered resistance from record labels who were unsure how to work with her because she looked and sounded so exactly like Houston.
Instead, she ended up with a busy career as a backing vocalist for some of the biggest names in Pop and R&B at the time, including Keyshia Cole, Monica, Johnny Gill, Kelly Price, and Keri Hilson. Her incredible voice, versatility and model-good looks saw her become highly sought-after in this field; she made appearances on The Jay Leno Show and The George Lopez Show and mixed in celebrity circles.
But Belinda eventually chose to put her career on hold and return to her homeland in 2011 to be with family and concentrate on raising her two sons.
Shortly after, however, in 2013, fate knocked. John Van Grinsven, creator and producer of Showtime Australia’s The Greatest Love of All starring Belinda Davids, was on his final round of global auditions to find a star for his new production and Belinda managed to nab a last-minute audition. What had once been a hindrance for her was now a blessing – Belinda beat almost 15,000 other hopefuls to take the marquee role.
Rehearsing and touring began almost immediately and demand has grown exponentially ever since. The show has now performed across much of the globe including the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Lithuania, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, UAE, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and South Africa.
In 2017 Belinda’s profile reached new heights when she won the BBC’s Even Better Than the Real Thing tv talent program, hosted by Paddy Maguire in March, and later that year gave a rousing performance of “I Will Always Love You” on Fox TV’s iconic, long-running talent show Showtime at the Apollo, hosted by Steve Harvey. Both performances continue to gather views online, the latter of which went viral on Facebook with 12 million views at last count.
In 2018 Belinda completed her first major US tour with The Greatest Love of All and debuted the show’s special orchestral concert series in the UK, performing with The National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra in some of the country’s most iconic venues including London’s Hammersmith Apollo theatre.
In 2019 Belinda will continue to showcase her exquisite voice worldwide, with major The Greatest Love of All tours already confirmed for Australia and Ireland, a return to the US, and more orchestral concerts in the UK and South Africa.