Voice of an angel


Singer-songwriter Jemma Kate Badenhorst has thrown herself into her career as an artist and creates music that is deeply personal.

Bubbly and warm, Jemma’s passion for music is evident in the way she talks about her journey – one that has led her to stages around the country. She has always had a passion for performing and says she danced throughout her school career, originally starting with ballet, tap and modern, and moving onto Latin and then Freestyle. In her matric year, she competed in the South African Championships and was awarded second place. Soon after that, she entered the world of professional dancing.

Jemma moved to Cape Town to study, and in 2013 her performing career really took off when she landed a role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Fugard Theatre. She then spent some time working as a singer on the MSC cruise ships, before returning to Durban and joining the Barnyard Theatre, first as a dancer and then a singer. During this time, she travelled and performed with the company, and met her husband Nico who was also with the Barnyard at the time as a bass player. Although they loved the experience, there came a time when Jemma and Nico realised it was time to create their own music. “We were just ready,” she admits. “Nico began writing all my music and I decided to focus a lot on my singing and my music career.”

In 2021, Jemma and Nico welcomed their first baby and she took a break from singing as she adjusted to life as a mom. Last year, she felt ready to really throw herself back into her work and released three songs, Home, Sweet Love and Breaking Through, all of which are on local radio stations now. Knowing that her music is out in the world feels amazing, if a little daunting. “Everything I write is quite personal,” she says. “Everybody gets a bit of insight into your life, so it’s a vulnerable thing.”

Juggling a work-life balance with family isn’t always easy, but Nico is her biggest supporter, especially since she became a mother. “My husband has been so supportive, encouraging me to still dance and perform, and still do stuff that I love,” she says. “Motherhood is so consuming and it can take everything out of you. I wouldn’t have been able to continue my career if my husband wasn’t so supportive.”

“I really wanted to create a community of women, supporting women. I don’t care if you’re doing it right or wrong, I just want you to have fun!”

Besides writing and performing her music, Jemma does mobile theatre shows for corporates and other events. She is also the founder and owner of Freedom Dance Studio and offers classes at FITPOD at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre, as well as in Umhlanga. “I was very intentional about being welcoming to anybody,” she says. “I really wanted to create a community of women, supporting women. I don’t care if you’re doing it right or wrong, I just want you to have fun!”

Professionally, her goal this year is to focus specifically on her own music and show concepts, but the most exciting prospect is growing her family. Jemma is due with her second child this month, and is excited about what the future holds.
:www.jemmakatemusic.com; IG: @jemmakatemusic

Text: Jennifer Campbell Photograph: Shren Media Makeup: Michelle Haywood Dress: Belly & Button