Op-eds

The day the music died

  • CA2
I’m a survivor. I’m a thriver. I’ve been through some pretty challenging things in my 63 years, and I’m still here. But, I’ve never experienced anything like this. This COVID-19 thing came down upon us with its mighty sword, and I, like most people around me, was incredulous, shocked, and in denial.
by CINDY ALTER | Jul 16, 2020

I’m actually a loner. I love being on my own, in my peaceful space, pottering around my tiny garden, writing songs or poetry, and keeping my business going. However, as there is a yin, there is a yang, and I love my life as a singer-songwriter, performing in front of thousands or hundreds of people. It has always fuelled my fire. Suddenly, I was forced into global seclusion, and what I craved more than anything was to be with people.

1 April 2020 was the day the music died.

I wasn’t allowed to work. My career, one that I have been blessed with for the past 45 years, came to a grinding halt, and that was that. It boggles the mind. It alienates oneself from self, and unleashes a war of conflicting emotions on the stormy seas of helplessness and hopelessness.

I’ve survived being the front woman in one of the most successful South African bands in music history, selling 17 million albums to date, and having several number-one hit records across the globe. All this during the politically and socially conflicting years of apartheid.

I survived when our manager siphoned off all our money, and left us with nothing, after all the years of hard work and global fame. I had to pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back out there, because if I didn’t, I would be damned to a life of misery and pain. Performing gave me the guts to get back on the horse.

I survived an eight-year abusive relationship at the hands of a man who nearly took my life. My career saved me. My passion for singing pulled me out of a living hell, and pushed me into my future, eventually settling in Los Angeles, California, to continue my career as a singer-songwriter, and to find some peace. I got married, became an American citizen, and lived my life full of music, as always.

In 2002, I was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukaemia, and went through a year of hospital treatment, chemotherapy, and radiation, finally undergoing an autologous stem-cell bone-marrow transplant.

I survived the cancer, and moved back to South Africa to resume my career and embrace my healing journey. I have been fortunate enough to have had a career that has taken care of me, enabled me to live the way I love to, support myself, and take care of my needs. I have worked nationally and internationally with major artists, as well as doing motivational talks at schools and corporate presentations, and I’m still passionate about what I do. And now, it’s gone.

Everything shut down, people were ordered to “stay at home”, and poof, just like that, the age of live-music went up in smoke, and along with it, my career.

I’m bereft. I’m grieving for something I’ve lost and don’t know how to find again. But, surprisingly, I have faith that venues will open again and the musicians of the world will be able to take to the stage.

I have faith that I’ll survive this, I’ll thrive through this, and, out of the ashes of this global pandemic, the music will rise, like a phoenix, and I’ll be there to take my place once again. Faith is really all I have right now, and it has to be enough.

  • Cindy Alter is an award-winning singer and songwriter, author and motivational speaker who may be best known for being the lead singer of Clout, an all-woman band in the 1980s.

6 Comments

  1. 6 Jenny Horton 20 Jul
    A beautiful person and a stunning personality. That is my Cindy Alter.
  2. 5 Jo 20 Jul
    Beautiful, Cindy. Just... perfect. ❤️
  3. 4 Dan Selsick 21 Jul
    I survive by thinking of this as a creative vacation and a worldwide embargo on music. When we eventually move into a post ‘coronial’ era the world will be hungry again for our contribution. 
  4. 3 Roy Douglas 21 Jul
    Dear Cindy, OMG this situation really has hit you hard! I am friends with a couple of local artists and they too are struggling with this problem, however the situation here in the States is just so much more under control. We had an open-mike event last night, first one in 4 months so are on our way back. Nick Keena my bud is just so happy to be back in business, on top of everything else you have the ANC absolutely destroying all around you, its shameful.
    Praying things will turn around for everybody, the vaccines are not far away. Tons of Love Roy
  5. 2 Laura Miller 23 Jul
    Stay strong my friend and stay safe. This too shall pass.... xxx
  6. 1 Nevenka 23 Jul
    Praying that all will come right soon for you Cindy.  ove you lots..🙏❤️

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