Feel So Strong

PJ Powers

Paperback ISBN - 978-1-903360-21-7


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Feel So Strong

Music, Mandela & Me

PJ Powers

Publication date: 1st May 2025


The crowd hushed as he announced, “Today, today, we are going to marry this ntombazana to Soweto” to roars from the crowd. “What should we call her?” he asked.

And then, in what felt like a split second, the crowd responded as if with one voice: “Thandeka”.

Thandeka – the loved one.


PJ Powers was born in pre-apartheid South Africa and rose to stardom as a young teenager with the band Frontline, got involved in the ANC during apartheid, and corresponded with Nelson Mandela in prison, leading to a lifelong friendship. In a time when white artists were advised to avoid black districts, she defied the restrictions and performed at Jabulani Ampitheatre in Soweto. Honoured by the crowd at that performance with a new name, Thandeka (‘the loved one’), it cemented her as an artist with a social conscience.

This fascinating autobiography takes the reader on a journey from 1980s South Africa and around the world, and discusses the highs and lows of a life lived as a woman in the spotlight, dealing with addiction and abusive management, global fame and the loss of it, and redemption in later life.

About the author

Penelope Powers, known by her stage name PJ Powers and also known as Thandeka, is an award-winning, internationally renowned artist from South Africa. She’s perhaps best known in the UK for her vocals on ‘World In Union’, the iconic rugby world cup song. Her career began as lead singer of Hotline in the 1980s. Her solo career flourished throughout the 1990s and 2000s, sharing the stage with stars like Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox and Hugh Masekela. A committed activist, she was honoured to write the official 85th birthday song for President Mandela in 2003, which she sang to him in front of world leaders and presidents during the international broadcast. Recently released from a punitive music publishing rights contract, she’s enjoying renewed success.