One of the leading Jazz acts, the award winning Rantao is so hard working and so that to see her reach a place of fame and fortune that many of her contemporaries have failed to reach would not be a surprise.
This week this mother, business woman and musician of note opened up to Voice reporter, Daniel Kenosi about her music career challenges, her family and the future.
Q. Good day Kearoma Rantao, tell us about Carpet interviews.
We hear sex is a common trade currency in the music industry. Is it true?
Very true, but it doesn’t only happen in the music industry you know but in all sectors.
There are men who expect a woman to give them sexual favours before they can help her go up the corporate ladder which is very wrong, but what I have noticed though is that the way a woman treats herself is the same way other people, including men would treat her.
I have never met a man or promoter who wanted sexual favours for them to work with me and it’s all because I have never presented myself as that sort of woman before anybody.
Q. You just returned from Germany. What were you doing there?
I am a solo artist but I am also part of a group called Kalahari Roses which comprises of almost all jazz artists in Botswana.
We collaborated with some artists in Germany and recorded a Jazz album which we launched across Germany for the whole of last month. It’s yet to be launched in Botswana in 2014.
Q. Please give us a sneak peek into your daily routine.
Well I wake up every morning at 5am to prepare everything for my children before they go out to school.
I only do that when I am home though and not busy with my music career.
Q. Talking about children. Is there any lucky man in your life?
Yes! Dan. There is a man in my life who is the father of my kids. We have been together for the past 16 years.
He is a loving and caring father who is also like a brother to me.
We are happily living together so spread the message out there that I am not available (laughs).
Q. Are there any wedding plans?
I am happy with him and a lot of people ask why we are not married even though we have been together for such a long time but the answer is very simple.
We love each other and we are not in any hurry.
Even if we are to get married after 100 years it would be fine by me.
We will get married though when the right time comes and you will surely be on the guest list.
Q. Please take us through your music career development. Where did it all start?
I am from a musical background.
My mother is a musician and I I followed in her footsteps until I saw the need to spread my wings.
I used to be a lead singer at school. I was involved in school choirs.
From there I took it to church and tried all music competitions. I remember at some point I was part of the Lobatse choral group.
I was the youngest but I was one of the lead singers.
All that experience opened my eyes because I met many professional singers in South Africa who inspired me to take up music as a career.
Q. From church you decided to join the contemporary music platform.
What inspired you to take that route?
It was back in 1999 and by then I was a student at Damellin studying Hotel Management and at the same time working for the Grand Palm hotel when I saw an advert that musical group, Ex-Cut Edge was looking for a female vocalist.
Q. What were you employed as at Grand Palm?
It was more like and internship under their hotel management office.
As I said, I took the chance and went out for auditions and got the job.
We recorded a single titled “Ngwetsi” which received so much airplay and even won an award.
It was really tough because I was from a stern Christian family and I felt that I shouldn’t disobey my parents by performing in night clubs.
I decided to pull back after a show which was held at UB stadium where fans went berserk and pelted us with beer cans on the stage which traumatised me.
I went home, took stock of my career and decided to be a musician who doesn’t only entertain but also educates people and instils a sense of responsibility.
That’s how I decided to take the jazz route and started performing for guests at hotels around Gabs.
Q. Wow!! How do you manage to balance family and career?
It’s all about planning and scheduling very well.
I am also very blessed to have a very supportive partner who understands that my career is demanding.
My first born is 15 years old so I am already teaching her how to take care of her siblings in my absence. ……
(Pauses and laughs) My man is hands on and so he sometimes becomes the mother as well when I am away from home.
He can do everything that I do around the home.
Back then we used to record to just gain fame and recognition but nowadays things have totally changed.
We are all out to make a profit but at the same time educating and entertaining through our music.
Nowadays it’s a dog eat dog industry and the competition is tough.
Q. Local promoters still prefer South African artists over locals. Your views on this.
It’s true that our promoters prefer international artists over us and at times it’s really justified because some of our artists produce music that is below standard compared.
We don’t have enough record labels.
We don’t have good recording equipment.
You should also take into consideration that these promoters are out to make money as well and they have noticed that their customers prefer South Africans so they give them a priority and I would do the same if I was in that business so let’s not blame promoters but work hard to produce high quality music that can compete internationally.
My next album will be done in South Africa and I hope soon our producers will learn one or two things and bring that into our country.
Q. You are now a member of Women of Jazz. How did that come about?
We met a music instructor from Maruapula who was organizing a jazz music show for all jazz women in Botswana, after that show Nnunu, Nono, Punah and I just decided to come together and register a group called Women of Jazz.
We never looked back since then.
Q. The group fell apart and one member went her own way. What went wrong?
You know that in every organization and even where you work there are differences and you can end up reaching a point of no return.
We had differences and she had to pull away but we are still in good contact.
Q. Have you registered to vote in the 2014 general elections?
Eish!! I haven’t registered but I am looking to register and vote next year.
I call upon all young people and artists to go do the right thing, register and vote.
If we want change our lives then we should show that by voting for the leaders we want.
Q. It’s breast cancer awareness month.
Any word on that?
Cancer is a really disturbing issue and we seem to have given it a blind eye.
I urge both males and females to be always on the lookout for any symptoms and get medication before it’s late.
Q. We thank you for your time and wish you all the best.
What plans do you have for this weekend?
I appreciate Mr Dan. I will be out performing in Mahalapye. That’s what I do almost every weekend, perform.