UNCONVENTIONAL: Jazz singer Auriol Hays. Picture: Supplied
The phone rings only twice before a laughing voice comes on the line and dissolves all celebrity illusions.
Cape Town-based Auriol Hays is anything but a diva; the frank mother of one is confident and bubbly, and her extraordinary personality and wacky sense of humour pour in over the phone.
Although she comes from a musical family, she says her family had little influence on her music career, “the music tastes in my family are very different,” she says.
Hays’ sultry jazz sound comes about just as easily as the songstress’s laughter.
“I felt like something was missing in my life, I didn’t know what it was until my daughter was, like, a year old,” she says.
The light bulb that brought us hits like “Turn Up the Volume” and one of her latest offerings, “All Tied Up”, went off while Hays was watching a TV programme, then she knew, music was for her.
“I saw a psychic and she said to me ‘music is your path’.”
While she didn’t believe it at first, it seems Hays was destined for music.
“Music made me whole, even though I write the dodgiest, creepiest songs,” she laughs.
She says her music career came as a shock to her family.
“I was a very quiet child,” says Hays, adding that she suffers from stage fright.
“Every time I sing I feel like I’m going to die, I get the butterflies and that.”
Although Hays says juggling her music career and being a mother to her daughter has been a challenge for her, she says her daughter now understands what she does and knows it isn’t just what she does for a living but also what she loves.
Not at all mainstream, Hays sings for the love of it rather than for recognition.
“At the end of the day it’s about being true to yourself. Ben Harper said something like you can lie in everything you do but you can’t lie when you write music.”
Auriol Hays’ latest CD, which will be available soon, is a peek into her the heart and mind.
Also in her diary these days is the help to read programme, an initiative that encourages reading by pairing children with adults.