Terri-Lee Adendorff: Ernstig!

“When I found out I was a D cup. That was the defining moment of my childhood.”

Terri-Lee is a siren. Not the loud wailing device fitted to emergency vehicles, but rather the mythical creature whose lilting singing lures innocent men into unforeseeable danger. Long bistre hair and matching Dior-framed eyes belies the singer-songwriter’s true nature, for behind the pretty face lies an uncanny wit and copious amounts of attitude.

“Back in Welkom I was a bit of a badass,” she asserts without a hint of sarcasm, “so when I got here I felt I needed to be true to myself so I could faithfully reconstruct myself.”

Perhaps her new silver Mini Cooper S is a manifestation of that desire. Terri doesn’t have a driver’s license, however that doesn’t stop her from driving around Grahamstown, Free State license plates proudly displayed (“People give Welkom a really bad rap, but it’s a solid place”) and mixtaped indie-folk blaring out the tinted windows. She’d probably be playing her own recordings if her own band, the Life of Riley, ever got the opportunity to record something.

At only 19, Terri has already had more musical experience than most artists a decade older than her. She’s an accomplished clarinetist who played in the Royal Orchestra for four years in her early teens, as well as picking up awards for Best Solo Clarinet at the High Steadford Speech and Music Festival.

“It was more like Nerd Festival,” she snidely remarks while waving her Peter Stuyvesant wildly in the air. “I also made it to the finals of that Yamaha Young Talent music thingy for self-composition with guitar, but that was all a show.”

Within two months of arriving at Rhodes University for her first year of Journalism and Media Studies, she had joined an indie-folk band, The Life of Riley, a band influenced by, as she claims, “chain-smoking, Laurika Rauch and Sufjan Stevens.”

“It’s the most honest musical thing I’ve ever done,” explaining with smoke drifting out with every word, “I feel really relaxed when we play and fuck around and write music.”

Despite practicing for months, their first show only came at the beginning of August this year, opening for local band 10 Points for the Dismount, and Port Elizabeth post-hardcore outfit Sick Day September. The half-an-hour set was played in front of a crowd of sixty.

“That first gig at the Old Gaol was such a moment for me. It was surreal for people to be listening and actually enjoying it.” Her incredulousness was shared by her bandmates, but for Terri, it meant a whole lot more than the crowds to her.

“I was worried that I would blend in too much here,” she says while readjusting her glasses, “but then I was singing live in front of a lot of people and being recognised in the street. I realised I was standing out a bit.”

Terri, like any first year, had real problems with the new balance of between university work and life and the difficulties of reasserting identity and image. (She feels she’s “a fat girl.”) She acknowledges, however, that it really hasn’t been so horrible in hindsight.

“Occasionally in life there are things that just pan out for you regardless, so knowing that, I probably shouldn’t have stressed out so much.” She extinguishes her cigarette, and pulls another Stuyvesant out of the box, lights it efficiently, and takes a long drag.

Surely then, it can’t only be cigarettes and music that take the stress away?

“No, it’s also the beer. I love alcohol so much. I just look at a tall glass of yeasty lovely and I just cry for joy a little each time.”

A pause. A chuckle. A drag.

“Wanna head down to Rat?”

(Terri's blog is at http://5inblindsight.blogspot.com)


  1. Anonymous said...

    Hey... that photo from battle of the bands looks familiar... I think I took it!

    Kif profile of the oh-so-fabulous Miss Adendorff :)  

  2. Terri said...

    Oh Nich, u old lege. This is too awesome. Thanks for all the nice things u say Nichyy, ur the wind beneath my wings. But seriously. Beer? Hehe.  

  3. This Random Girl said...

    The student chosen as a hero in this blog is an alternative, fresh and funky woman who follows her own beliefs and does not conform to the conventions of those around her. The disruption that Terri-Lee has to fate is clearly seen through the fact that she has a strong musical talent and she needed to learn how to fit it into the Rhodes life. The fact that "within two months of arriving at Rhodes... she had joined an indie-folk band" shows that she made attempts to fit in and use her talents. This article shows us that the writer is afraid to write about a person who describes herself as a "badass" and shows that the politics of the writer are in favour of the woman trying to re-invent herself. The writer seems to favour the drinking smoking and partying aspects of Rhodes and this can cleary be seen by the conclusion, but this does not mean that the writer does not accept other aspects. The fact that this article centres around a woman who loves indie music (not always very common) shows that the writer likes to include people from all walks of life and sees Rhodes as a place of diversity. If one was to analyse the narrative of this profile, one could clearly see elements of Todorov's model. Coming to Rhodes can be seen as the disequilibrium and the joining of the indie band can be seen as an attempt to restore the equilibrium. The new equilibrium can be seen through the fact that the student is happy in her new environment.  


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