Born in Belgium of an Italian father and South African mother, Tamara Dey first burst onto the music scene in 2000.
Dubbed the First Lady of Kwaito, an icon of township pop, & ‘The First Lady of Song’ (Sunday Times), Tamara Dey was discovered by DJ Pepsi who introduced her to Bruce Sebitlo and Oscar Mdlongwa (DJ Oscar of YFM radio) of Brothers of Peace. The result was a collaboration, which produced the chart-topping Thathi ‘Mphahlayakho and launched her career.
Her collaboration with BOP on this track saw her travel the length & breadth of South Africa on the Sony Summer Sounds Tour 2000, with BOP and a group of 60 artists including the likes of Mandla Spikiri’s Trompies and Mafikizolo. The track was nominated for three SA Music Awards in early 2001.
Tamara has managed to cross all cultural, age & language barriers. She has unassumingly been recognized as one of the few SA artists contributing towards bridging the gap between all cultures, ages & races. With 11 official languages in SA, Tamara’s music has been described as the ‘unofficial language’; celebrating the heart & soul of South Africa and it seems she’s just getting warmed up…
After using the time and space afforded to her during the Covid19 crises to write and record, the 2020s is set to be one of Tamara’s most exciting decades yet…with yet another reinvention as the diva of disco… her latest hit single is a remake of the 80s anthem “Leave Me Alone” (from Brenda Fassie) which has reached number 1 on the 5FM dance music chart in 2023 for The 1st Lady of Song.
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August 2001 saw the debut release of EP ‘The First Lady’, a five-track collection of some of the hottest talent in the local dance scene, including collaborations with Thembi Seete, Lebo Mathosa & Thandiswa Mazwai.
In huge demand at Fashion Shows, TV shows, for club & corporate performances, one of the highlights of 2001 was her performance at the most talked about launch of the new mobile network provider, Cell C, where two of her own tracks were adapted for this massive production.
Tamara was nominated for three Standard Bank SAMA Awards:
–Best Pop Album – for The First Lady
–Best Dance Album – for The First Lady
And the most prestigious of all, Best Newcomer.
She was also nominated for:
–‘Best Female Artist Of The Year award’ at the Metro FM awards, up against Lebo Mathosa and Brenda Fassie,
–‘Most Stylish Female Singer in a Music Video’ at the Elle Magazine Style awards.
Late in 2002, Tamara began work on her second album ‘The First Lady And The Boys’. Whilst recording, Tamara spent her time promoting her much-loved debut album ‘The First Lady’ across the country.
Some of the shows Tamara performed at included The SABC Celebrity Road show, The Rand Show, The Cell C Loerie awards and The Smirnoff Experience alongside ‘Masters At Work’, Jazzy Jeff and Barbara Tucker.
In September of 2003, Tamara released her 2nd album entitled ‘The First Lady & The Boys,’ The Boys being the producers behind the scenes. Whilst the spotlight is always placed on the artist, with this release, Tamara shifted focus & recognised the importance of the ‘producer/s (The Boys), the very people that make an album happen.
With The First Lady And The Boys; Tamara hooked up with some of South Africa’s top producers to create a hot new dance CD filled with jazz, pop, rock, funk and Kwaito influences.
Within a week of release the track ‘Uyazi Mos’ climbed the charts, receiving extensive national airplay eventualy becoming a top ten hit.
Tamara was invited to Egypt alongside Mandoza by the Egyptian embassy in collaboration with the South African government, where during a whirlwind tour they experienced the best of Egyptian tourism. Their tour was flighted on national TV.
Not one to miss an opportunity, Tamara offered an impromptu performance with a local Egyptian band for their hosts, the Egyptian Tourist Office and the SA Ambassador to Egypt.
This led to her being invited back to Egypt to perform at the closing ceremony at the Cairo International Music festival. Other gigs; Vodacom 4U Campus tours, Presidents Cup & opening for Beyoncé …. to name but a few, were memorable moments of 2003.
Tamara was nominated for-
-Best Female vocalist, Metro Fm awards,
– Awesome Women of the year, Cosmopolitan Magazine
– Viewers Choice edition eTV’s Nite Life Xmas
But the big ‘Bling Bling’ of 2003 was Tamara being selected by De Beers Diamond Company to represent their ‘Shining Lights’ collection:
Drenched in diamonds on top of a building in the Johannesburg inner city Tamara shot the video for the house track S‘Groovy Baby’, sponsored by De Beers Diamonds. The video was premiered at a suitably glamorous occasion: Cape Town Fashion Week in August. This wonderful relationship with De Beers continues into 2004.
Embodying our potential for cultural fusion, without compromise, Tamara makes the ‘D List’ for 2004’s South African Design Indaba.
“More aspirational than the A-list…
Better dressed than the B-list….
More cultured than the C list…
The D-list-South Africa’s most Desirable.”
*The second single ‘Its Disco’ hits the number 1 spot (March 2004) on national radio. So sweet (Uyazi Mos) still enjoying massive airplay with the words ‘Uyazi Mos ‘ becoming a very trendy phrase of the SA youth.
* Tamara performed at the wrap party for the movie’ HOTEL RWANDA staring Nic Nolte.
*ADIDAS offer a fantastic clothing sponsorship deal
* The First Lady & the Boys is nominated for the Best Dance Album SAMA
* Tamara’s new dance track, Summer Movin’, is released by Gallo on their Monster Hits 2004 Vol.2 album to great acclaim and claims its place for many weeks on the charts.
In perhaps the most exciting event of 2004, Tamara was selected to open for Latin hero Enrique Iglesias during his SA National Tour. (Vodacom and 5fm Music, supporting Unite Against Hunger.) Enrique, the biggest selling Spanish language artist in the world has enjoyed world-wide sales of over 30 million records, 5 American Music Awards, 2 Grammy’s, 2 Billboard Music Awards, a World Music Award and more!
Amongst many other exciting appearances in 2004, Tamara also performed across the continent and abroad in countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, Swaziland & Mauritius (Coca Cola Collaboration.)
Tamara joined the A-list at Louis Vuitton’s high profile, high fashion launch of their first LV store in South Africa at The Saxon, both entertaining the guests during the 5-star dinner with a blend of jazz followed by her upbeat funky dance sounds, and sporting Louis Vuitton’s latest fashion wear.
Tamara hit’s 2005 with a big bang, bringing in the New Year with her partners, DJs Ryan Dent & Craig Massiv, under the guise of their new dance outfit Flash Republic at an awesome New Year’s Eve party sponsored by 5fm and including international club syndicate PASHA (Ibiza) at The Castle, Cape Town.
Tamara spent most of the first 6 months of 2005 either in studio or on the road at various venues all over the country with Flash Republic.
Flash Republic embarked on a successful tour to Europe in the middle half of 2005. They spent July and August entertaining the crowds with what can only be described as some of the best South African dance tunes at the summer music festivals in Holland. Highlights include Flash Republic’s appearances at the:
1 Extrema Music ‘Ten Year Anniversary’ Festival
2 Free Funk Festival
3 Sollar Festival
In between her commitments to Flash Republic, Tamara has continued to perform at various corporate events whilst making television appearances on programmes such as “Dis Hoe Dit Is met Steve” – again illustrating her incredible versatility and “Rainbow” following.
* Flash Republic released their first album ‘Time is now’ and their first single ‘Emergency’ hit’s no1 on Christmas day.
Tamara finished off 2005 with a Flash Republic tour of Cape Town and its thriving club circuit.
Tamara and Flash Republic are asked to open for Fat boy slim and also share the stage with Audio Bullies and Stereo MC’s on a national tour of S.A
Tamara is asked to take part in the highly popular Strictly Come Dancing and made it into the semi-finals! She still holds the only perfect score ever achieved on Strictly Come Dancing SA. A full 40 points for her cha cha.
Flash Republic perform at the closing parties of both Cape Town and J’oburg Fashion Week.
Flash Republic perform at Heat hot 100, sports illustrated parties and Tamara Performs on both nights of the S.A TV and advertising Awards.
*Tamara is voted most stylish performer of the year and wins the overall title of south africas most stylish person of the year – SA Style awards 2006
The year begun with great enthusiasm and there are great expectations for Miss Dey, with the her working on her much anticipated 2nd album release with Flash Republic and third solo project.
In addition to featured stories and photographic spreads in Heat, Marie-Claire, You, Glamour, Seventeen, In Style, People, Cosmo and Y-Mag Publications, Tamara’s true status as one of SA’s style icons is evident in her being appointed brand ambassadors to:
1 Emporio Armani and Armani Collezione
2 La Mer
3 Safilo (Dior Eyewear)
4 Michelangelo handbags (Milan)
5 Carlton Hair – David Guilson (Celebrity Hairstylist)
Tamara is also associated with local clothing designers, namely Malcolm Kluk, Black Coffee and Marion & Lindie
Tamara also enjoyed another successful year with Flash Republic. Their latest release “gave it up for music” received massive airplay reaching no6 on the charts and they were invited back on to the set of strictly come dancing to perform it live for the country.
Better still Tamara and Flash enjoyed the awesome experience of opening for acclaimed rap artist Kelis and the awesome John Legend.
The year ended with another country wide club tour for Flash Republic and a massive performance for virgin mobile New Years bash at the gold museum in Cape Town.
Tamara Started 2008 of with a bang receiving rave reviews for her performance as Magenta in the Victory Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror and was honoured to be invited to perform “Science Fiction” as the opening performance at the 2008 Naledi awards.
Tamara Finished the production in May and went on to focus on the finishing the recording of Flash Republic’s 2nd Album.
Tamara performed as one of the stars of the 2008 Bidvest extravaganza, was one of the celebrities Faces of the Casual day campaign and one of the Faces of the Marie Claire Anti Drug campaign.
The end of 2008 see’s Flash Republic release their 2nd album “Danger” and while their first single “shut it” steams up local airwaves the Prok n’ Fich Remix of their single ‘Star’ fly’s to number 12 on the UK dance charts.
There was major excitement in the air as 2009 begins. Flash Republic’s latest Album “Danger” recieved top reviews in SL Magazine, Heat and the Star tonight.
Tamara is invited to present the award for Best Group at the MK awards.
2009 has barely started and Tamara is already Nominated for two awards –
– Flash Republic are nominated for Best Dance album at the SAMA awards
– Tamara is nominated for Best female Newcomer for her performance in Rocky Horror at the Neledi Awards
Tamara and Flash Republic sign an endorsement deal with International fashion Label Tiger of Sweden, who also dress UK Rock band The Kaizer Chiefs.
Flash Republics ‘Twister’ is nominated for an MK music video award in the Neon category and Tamara’s Collaboration, ‘Knock knock”, with Martin Rocka and the Sick shop is also nominated in the Best Collab category.
They also embarked on a Successful tour of Dubai, London and Ireland
2010 turned out to be all about Flash Republic’s 3rd album “Killer moves”
After a successful 2009 December tour Flash Republic went straight into studio to start work on the project.
The album was released in September and received rave reviews in magazines such as
Heat, You magazine, FHM, BPM Mag and One small Seed.
Their first single “in the name of dance” was later nominated for an MK award in the category Best Neon.
This year also saw Flash Republic collaborate with local rock band, Foto na dans. Their track “Afrikaans” rocked out on local radio and went to No1 on the MK charts. Flash Republic and Fnd are invited to perform “Afrikaans” at the 2010 MK awards. “Afrikaans” was later nominated for an MK award in the Best Collab category for the 2011 MK awards.
Flash Republic played some awesome shows in 2010. Their most memorable were being on the line up for Oppikoppi, Bassment Jax, MCQP, Synergy festival and Rocking the Daisy’s. They were also invited to the Seychelles to perform for a Prince as well as being invited to open the show at the 2010 You Spectacular.
Tamara was selected as one of Glamour Magazines Women of the year as their “Lady of Rhythm” and her solo collaboration “Trippen” with International DJ/producer Stonebridge also steamed up local and international charts.
4 x SAMA17 nominations with Flash Republic Best Global Dance Album, Duo/Group of the year, Album of the year and Remix of the Year
2 x Vodacom TV commercials
April Cover of Top Billing Magazine and Face of Grand Designs Festival (with Aidan Bennett)
Live performance with Arno Carstens at the Elle Macpherson Intimates launch
Tamara Dey and Flash Republic opened for Groove Armada on their South African tour
Performance in Berlin at the World Culture Festival first weekend of July together with Concord Nkabinde
Another performance with Concord Nkabinde this time together with acclaimed percussionist Godfrey Mcina at the Launch of the new wing of Sandton City
Flash Republic chosen to perform at the Fair Lady Magazine Fashion Awards Ceremony
January 2012 Flash Republic performed to a huge international audience in Abu Dhabi where they were invited to perform at a party welcoming the Round the World Yacht Race fleet at the end of the Cape Town to Abu Dhabi leg.
February Tamara was the final cover model of Cleo Magazine
In the past Flash Republic have performed at all of the major South African Outdoor Music Festivals incl. Joburg Day, KDay, Oppikoppie, MK By Die Dam, and Kirstenbosch, This year will see them repeating their appearances last year at KDay, The Mr Price Pro Surfing Festival in KZN and the Angels of Rock Music festival in Gauteng where they were the headline act.
After a smasher 10-year run with Flash Republic, Tamara and the guys decided it was time for a much needed break. This gave the band an opportunity to explore other projects and Tamara and Drummer/Producer Isaac Klawansky went on to develop an exciting alternative dance act called DBYM (Death by Misadventure), which quickly got signed by Karl Anderson to Music label Just Music. Their album “Dumb Dumb” released in 2014, received a SAMA nomination for Alternative album of the year.
After touring extensively for years with Flash Republic Tamara’s voice had begun to suffer, and in early 2014 Tamara underwent sinus and vocal surgeries on both her vocal chords to remove severe polyps. Top ENT specialist, Dr Lance Maron, operated on Tamara and although she enjoyed the full recovery of her voice she was unable to sing or speak for several months whilst in recovery.
Tamara didn’t work at all for most of the year. The traumatic experience was a massive wake up call for the singer and upon her recovery; Tamara knew it was time to go solo again.
Tamara spent 2015 and 2016, writing and recording songs for a string of young artists and working on a number of new demo’s for her long awaited upcoming solo album, set to be released in 2017 titled “DeyL’Afrique”. At the end of 2015 she had received an exciting call from Oskido wanting to work with her again and she went on to sign with Oskido’s new music label Africa Lit at the end of 2016.
Jumping into studio with producers like DJ Maphorisa, 37Mph, Kamera, Sketchy Bongo, Emblazon, Ganja beats, Gemini Major, and Cape Town based producer Armeen Harron, Tamara plans to continue to collaborate with some of the top producers and artists in North, West, East and South Africa and to tour the Africa continent in 2017 and 2018, putting herself and her new music on the map throughout Africa and abroad. Polamo on “Fly Stars”, Khuli Chana features on a track called “Kings” her single called “Stuck in Our way “features internationally acclaimed Nigerian artist D’Banj and her collaboration with acclaimed female house DJ, DJ Zinhle on Zinhle’s single “Colours” continues to enjoy extensive air play and rave reviews.
2019 proved to be a busy year of corporate and public performances including a welcome return to Joburg Day, projects with Martin Rocca as well as the fabulous all girl trio ‘The Shoowop Shop’, together with Mariechan and Mikhale Jones as well as a sexy and sultry performance as XOXO.
However the highlight for 2019 was being chosen as a judge in the Pan African Talent contest Amazing Voices which was screened on DSTV Mzansi Magic, Mzansi Wethu, Africa Magic, Maisha Magic East and Zambezi Magic
After using the time and space afforded to her during the Covid19 crises to write and record. Tamara’s life has become a whirlwind of Writing, Recording, TV appearances, MC’ing, radio and press interviews and not forgetting her epic live performances. Never losing her good-natured composure, she remains soft-spoken, charming and beautiful. Currently involved with recording several singles and releasing a compilation album or EP the 2020s is set to be a bumper decade for the ‘First Lady of Song.’