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There Is No Substitute For Cindy Alter

Est. Reading: 2 minutes
Johannesburg-born Cindy Alter is a name synonymous with SA music. From her beginnings in Clout – remember the hit “Substitute”? – to the bands Zia, Alter Irving and as a solo singer-songwriter, her  40-year career has taken in influences from rock, pop, afro-pop to new country and beyond. Cindy has sold 12 million albums, had a number one hit in 10 countries and a number two hit in the UK. Now based in Nashville, she tells us how music has been the golden thread running through her life.

Pic: Cindy Alter (supplied)

How is the US treating you and what are you up to there? 

I love the US, having lived here before in Los Angeles for 15 years. I was very creative in the US, perhaps because of the constant competitiveness, or the constant need to be your better self. I truly found myself as a singer-songwriter: I found my place in that genre, and it is what I do till this day. I always love working with bands, but this gives you total control of how you want to play the song. Some nights you feel it differently, and being solo allows you to be completely spontaneous.

Of all your work with Clout and as a solo act, what are you most proud of? 

I am most proud of my solo work, mainly because I forged a career out of being me − not being part of a band, just being "Cindy Alter". When you work with a band, you take on a different set of actions. You are playing with the band, you are not the only person on the stage. You interact; you play together. I love that and have had the most incredible career with huge bands that have been very successful. But I have pride in how I have persevered and made a career out of being me. Against all odds, I fight the good fight and live my best life in the space that has been given to me.

How has your songwriting changed over the years? 

I think I am always learning, always improving as a songwriter. I do believe songwriters get messages from the universe which direct them on what to write about, and how to write it. Our talent lies in interpreting the message in a way that touches people, in a way people can relate to. The humanity you put into your songs comes with emotional intelligence, and hopefully, as I get older, my emotional intelligence and spontaneity are in a good place. 


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A post shared by Cindy Alter (@cindy_alter)

What do you miss most about SA? 

I will always miss SA. Even when I lived in LA all those years ago, I missed the familiarity of home. SA is a very special place and it stays in your heart always, no matter how long you are away. I know I share the dream of how SA should look in the future, and I will not give up on that.

What's the way forward for Cindy Alter?

I have just moved to Nashville, and I am giving it my all. I am going to sing and write and work and make a life for myself here, in Music City. It is very inspiring being in a place where you are surrounded by music 24/7. It keeps you focused on why you made the commitment to leave your home and your family. I am going to be able to play in a town that radiates and vibrates with music. It can only be good for me, as I have radiated and vibrated with music since I was a child. 

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Written by Simon Matthews.


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