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Searching for things above the sun
Mali Korsten with husband Cuan, as seen on the inside of her CD cover.
KNYSNA NEWS - "I feel a bit like I’m an (spiritual) astronaut, searching for things above the sun," says British-born songwriter and musician, Mali Korsten (21).
Korsten recently launched her debut album, Atlases & Astronauts, in Knysna (December 2010), after moving to South Africa in 2009 and marrying a local musician, Cuan Korsten.
"We met when I was asked to be his support act at a gig in the UK," she smiles. When they tied the knot two years later in Rheenendal, everyone joined in for a jamming session. "Yeah, you could say I played at my own wedding!"
Growing up with a musician-father and a mum who was a dancer, Korsten thought nothing of the fact that her dad had a home recording studio set up in their dining room.
"My dad would let met sit at the keyboard when I was about four and I would sing about whales and fairies," she recalls with a grin. "I also started taking piano lessons at age seven, but my dad made a point of never pushing me to take up the guitar - his guitars just stood all over the place and he patiently waited to see if they would ever trigger my interest!"
And trigger they did. When, as a pre-teen, she eventually showed interest in having a guitar of her own, her father bought her a basic nylon-string guitar. That very first guitar, combined with a high school crush, formed the beginning of her songwriting endeavours.
Inspired by such greats as Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, James Taylor and Bob Dylan, Korsten put great effort into crafting songs that she felt comprised the right combination of poetic lyrics, interesting musical arrangements and distinctive melodies. As she grew, so did the quality of her songs, and her subject matter stretched to many different topics, including her spiritual life.
"When I first started writing, most of my songs were about love." But after a spiritual transformation in 2008, her priorities changed.
"My focus shifted. My mind became occupied with the things of God, and that was soon reflected in my songs."
She says that the song, Only Hope by Switchfoot played a huge part in her salvation. "It’s amazing how that song moved me to want to give my life to God. After my conversion, I knew that I wanted to achieve something similar with my music."
A sense of self
As a child, Korsten and her dad would create home recordings of her favourite songs, as well as putting some of her own compositions to tape. In her first year of secondary school she entered a talent show, competing against many older students and coming first for her unaccompanied vocal performance. As she progressed in years, her vocal ability was quick to overtake, and she was soon performing with a maturity far beyond her age. Her voice developed a uniquely rich tone, which remains the trademark by which her fans recognise her.
Since moving to South Africa, Korsten frequents many renowned venues, including Knysna’s Swing Cafe, where she has opened for such local icons as Farryll Purkiss and Plush. She has a strong following in both England and South Africa, and has received radio airplay in both countries, as well as in Australia.
"The record moves smoothly through the folk, country, rock and pop genres, and has thus been well-received by people of all ages and tastes," she says.
Atlases & Astronauts was produced by husband Cuan Korsten in his home studio at Brenton-on-Sea. Local youngster and music phenomenon, David Vermeulen, contributed some blues harmonica on the last track, Move. The album artwork was designed by Warren Fleming of Pure Photography.
"Move was added at the last minute when we were already in production. My music can be melancholic and introspective, but this song had a lighter feel and I wanted to end the album on an optimistic note," Korsten explains. She feels that the track, which speaks about her moving from the UK to South Africa, became a metaphor for her life - a journey of faith and love.
Korsten is currently touring South Africa, promoting her album and adding to her ever-increasing fan base.
Atlases & Astronauts is available online at www.cdbaby.com/cd/malikorsten. One can also download the album from iTunes and Amazon. For more information visit
and for bookings, contact
076 5022 549 or email
Mali Korsten as a little girl standing on a chair, destiny already knocking pretty hard on her door for the performer she would one day become.
ARTICLE: ANOESCHKA VON MECK
13:30 (GMT+2), Wed, 13 April 2011
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