Every successful person is likely to spin you a ‘rags to riches’ chronicle, but none of those narratives are quite as awe inspiring as that of TopCheri, real name Monica Pineas.
This, because her meteoric rise to the pinnacle of the entertainment industry played out in plain sight.
Don’t get it twisted. She didn’t recover from any life-altering habit or experience a life-transforming epiphany; her success is seemingly the culmination of what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
The making of this star begins at Walvis Bay, where a high school girl, greatly impressed by local musician Martin ‘King Tee Dee’ Morocky, does not only adopt his work ethic but also claims his last name.
The slick move not only gets her the necessary attention but propels her to work on her own craft. Before long, ‘Monica Morocky’ – her moniker at the time – arrived on the scene, unveiling excerpts of a book in a local weekly newspaper.
“I loved writing so much that I ran a very successful school magazine back in high school. I was always told Windhoek is too big to make it and reminded that I will never make it. So, the dream I chased the hardest when I came to the city was definitely writing,” says TopCheri.
Much to the disdain of naysayers and the acclaim of fans, the determined writer hit the market with two novels, ‘Modern Relationships’ and ‘Love, Sex and Flight Tickets’.
They say sex sells. And that, coupled with her sex appeal, saw books flying off the shelves. This was a woman determined to blaze her trail and nothing was going to derail her focus. Not even the fame that came with it.
“I don’t let myself get tangled in the web of fame. Fame is cute but a lot of times creatives let it ruin them. They never make it to the music business aspect. You waste time chasing likes and views, while the business suffers.”
GETTING INTO MUSIC
The newspaper’s parent company owned a music label called Omalaeti Music, which prompted the go-getter to explore another side to her persona. Music.
After all, she says, she is “extremely motivated, and passionate about everything related to the art business”.
She says while working as a journo she stumbled on PDK and Tate Buti. Before long, the vocals for the song ‘Victoria’ were laid, based on her book ‘Love, Sex and Flight Tickets’.
“I did not choose the music. It chose me and I ran with it,” she says.
Although she managed to come up with two hit songs, being an upcoming singer and newcomer is never easy, she relates.
“I struggled to fit in. Until I realised that I could capitalise on my unique style of singing and performing. I simply stuck to the recipe God himself had for me,” she says.
Now, the award-winning songstress, writer and actress has four albums under her belt – ‘Fertile’, ‘The Matrimony’, ‘Tithe’ and ‘Dual’ – as well as one on the way.
She also has a collaborative project with kwaito muso Manxebe, titled ‘Ghetto Love’.
“My album names are mostly synonymous with the feeling that the process gives me. It always describes the bond I felt between myself and the process.
“I get inspired by everyday people and their scenarios; the stories are everywhere.”
Her fifth album, titled ‘Mother’, was set to be released yesterday (30 November) and in her own words is probably her “favourite child”. The 15-track project features different artists, including Tate Buti, Skrypt, PhatBoy and Manxebe.
“Every TopCheri offering is special. I worked with the Champions League, so expect a lot of Afro and uptempo tunes. The album is produced by Andrew on the Beat and with his usual unique Afro style, it’s a beautiful mixture,” says TopCheri.
“I never met my father or knew who he was. I was mocked by my fellow pupils, who always asked about my father,” says Top Cheri, adding she sometimes told people her father was a big artist in Windhoek – King Tee Dee.
“That’s also how I was nicknamed Monica Morocky.”
She says she moved to Windhoek looking for greener pastures after failing Grade 12.
“I had to come up with a plan with a late friend of mine to call my house to say I was shortlisted and selected for something in Windhoek,” the artist says, adding that was how she ended up in Windhoek.
She says after moving to the city, life was even harder for a woman with a dream.
“I wanted to register at the College of the Arts, but I couldn’t as my mother quit her job. Then I started writing stories on Monica Diaries, which saw me get a job at The Villager.”
Similarly, her brand continues to grow, leading to collaborations with major corporate brands like Top Score, MTC and Namcor, among others.
She recently made headlines when she was announced as a brand ambassador for Autohaus, scoring the use of a car for three months.
“This has meaning, not only for TopCheri as a brand but for the whole industry. It means corporate Namibia is paying attention,” she remarks.
TopCheri says today it is her and Autohaus, tomorrow it can be someone else with another brand.
The artist is also preparing for her Kiddies Concert on 9 December at the Doc Jubber Fields in Windhoek.
Coming from a traditional background, she says she does not take anything lightly and strives to remain grounded at all times.
“I feed a village. Being an entrepreneur is serious business to me, so I treat it as such.”
She lists her first album winning in the best album of the year and best newcomer categories at the Namibian Annual Music Awards as some of her top achievements.
“I also travelled the entire country with Lil-Lets South Africa, was booked as one of the headliners at the Victoria Falls Carnival in Zambia/Zimbabwe, and secured a booking in Germany to perform at a rhino saving campaign that had me in Germany for two weeks performing at different concerts.”
With so many roles to juggle, TopCheri says she does it all by separating the office from the stage.
“I give each of my strengths their fair time and different talents work for different seasons. It’s all about planning.”
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