You may recognize her.
After all, Dilana earned runner-up status on reality TV show Rockstar Supernova in 2006, where she competed with 14 other vocalists to earn a spot fronting a supergroup with Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Blarke. She also starred in 2010's Angel Camouflaged as a singer struggling with addiction – plus stepped in to create the soundtrack. The next year, she held lead singer status in Tracii Guns' version of the L.A. Guns, albiet briefly.
But when I get her on the phone, I ask Dilana what, beyond the bio, Hoosiers need to know about her before her performance in Indy with her new, all-female band SHI — and her answer is strikingly heartfelt.
“I need people to know, first, I'm real,” she says. “There is nothing dishonest about me or my music. There are no samples, no autotune up here on stage. And those who perform with me - they work as hard as me. Before every show, we [the women in my band and I] work hard to make sure, no matter what – that we give the audience 500 percent. And it makes no difference if we have an audience of 5 or an audience of 5,000 – we give everything we've got on stage. It's always what we give - all our best.”
Dilana left her home in South Africa in the mid-'90s under duress and it took her almost a decade to return.
“I do try to return at least once a year [to South Africa],” Dilana says. “And now, I can tour there - I'm still an independent musician. I feel much has changed since I left, but then some days, it feels like nothing has changed. At least, apartheid is over and there is a mindset for peace now. I think the younger generation wants peace, but they are often at the mercy of the older generation's hate and instigation. But there are more big changes coming for my homeland – I can feel it and I am hopeful.”
She's hopeful too, for a new collaboration — a specialty of Dilana's – and she often looks for someone real, someone writing and performing from the heart, someone to share a bond and commnicate with.
“I don't want an 8-5 writer,” Dilana says. “And I can't connect to speed writers. I want someone who can only write from the heart. I want something personal, someone to share stories with, even if we're different. I am always looking for that silver lining we have in common. I want to collaborate with someone I can open up to, be honest with, just be me. It's hard to be vulnerable, but I always seek a true connection.”
Her future plans could also include a return to film, as well.
“I loved doing film,” Dilana says. “I had a good time in the Angel role. It was a new challenge for me – to be in front of the camera and to be someone else. Hollywood is such a flaky scene, though. If it comes, it comes. I'll be ready for it, if it does. I have other goals, like a Christmas CD. Every year the holiday comes and goes and I really want to make a holiday CD a priority. I have another tour I would like to do, and two new CDs of original music. I can imagine a return to South Africa, too, and this time to stay, for both my daughter and me. The crime rate and danger are less now than they have ever been. I'm getting itchy feet, too, having been in LA for almost 11 years. I want my daughter to know something else, like her roots and culture. I look only to the future for the both of us.”
There have been many lessons for Dilana over the years as an entertainer, including one which should be followed by professionals everywhere.
“I always tell my girls in the band,” she says, “No matter how tired you are from being on the road – no matter how unbelievably tired you may feel – no one in the audience should be able to tell.”
With a toddler in tow on the road, Dilana knows this kind of tired.
“You do whatever you have to,” she says “Whatever it takes, to get that energy level up high, then higher, before you go on stage. Later, after the show, after the audience has gone, you can go into the corner and die for a bit. When you are alone, perhaps at breakfast the next day – then you can lament how tired you are. But never let the audience see. Never let anyone see how tired, or angry, or upset you may be. When you entertain, it must be with all you have. I read something recently, about speaking when angry. The piece said be sure to do that – speak when angry – it will be the best speech you will ever live to regret. So, I don't do that, speak or perform or entertain when angry or tired. I do what I have to get the spirits up, get the blood flowing, and then later, I can deal with the other stuff. It never comes on stage with me.”
“I think all artists hear their own music, and every once in awhile they might cringe or laugh at something they used to sing, to passionately feel,” Dilana says, “and that's part of the game. But if my fans had to remember me for anything, I would want it to be one particular CD: Beautiful Monster. It's a snapshot in time, a crowd-funded project and I thought it was just a beautiful, heartfelt piece of work. I was in it for every beat, every note. I love this CD and I am so very, very proud of it.”
If you go:
Dilana and SHI with The Girls
Saturday, February 27, 2016, 7 p.m.
Southport Bar & Grill, 5220 E. Southport Road