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Screw it, Just Do it


Apr 10, 2019

"I love performing but actually, I'm overcoming it now, but I really freeze up and get nervous when I have to talk in public. I like the idea of a performance speech to the public but the free, off-the-cuff, point a camera at me, I just don't become myself.

When I performed at the Opera House, you can't see the audience, nice big spotlight, only child here got to be a princess for 13 years, when I wasn't being all the other hilarious roles. 
 
Pietra quite often says to me "I know you want to go to Mars but we've only got the petrol to get to the moon".
 
I always hated it, I always hated performance. I think that it takes a long time for people to realise what their strengths are.
 
Ella took me to see a concert of Ladysmith Black Mambazo at Cadogan Hall and that was just amazing but we could see a gap at that moment to fill and it had never been done before so there was no challenge at that point for us, we were just so committed that it was a project that lasted five years for us. It had a setback, it had a pilot phase where it wasn't excepted and carried on, we wanted to do it ourselves and at that point, it grew and then had different challenges again.
 
We were working on Inala, Ella composed the music with Ladysmith Black Mambazo who Nelson Mandela took to collect his Noble Peace Prize, the legends. She sat around a piano, in South Africa and we took ourselves off there to start this project and she sat at the piano, surrounded by nine Zulu men, at the grand age of 22, and just played her music and they co-wrote five songs in that short time that we came back with and presented to the Director of the Royal Ballet.
 
He (Adam) sent me a message "Congratulations, that's amazing! The Grammy nominations!" And he text me a screenshot of the nominations that had just been announced and we had been nominated for a Grammy award."
 
Welcome to episode #121 of #Screwitjustdoit. On today's show, it's my pleasure to welcome the Sisters Grimm, that's Ella Spira and Pietra Mello-Pittman.
 
I'm all for taking #Screwitjustdoit in different directions, shining a light on different industries, different businesses and this is very much the case with Sisters Grimm.
 
I attended a British-American Business Christmas lunch, back in December, and I was sat at a table sponsored by Virgin Atlantic Delta and sat right next to me was Pietra and Ella. We got talking and I literally spent the entire Christmas lunch enthralled by an amazing business that they'd put together which is just celebrating 10 years and I thought this would be a fantastic subject for the show.
 
So, who are Sisters Grimm, what do they do? They're two of the UK's most exciting and successful, original theatre-show producers. They're best known for a fusion of the legendary sound of the African male choral group, Ladysmith Black Men Bazoo, with ballet, to create the Grammy Award-nominated show, Inala.
 
So Inala sold out the Edinburgh festival, the UK tour performed five times in Moscow at the famous Chekhov international theatre festival, returned to the UK for a sell-out tour at Sadler's Wells. In fact, I believe they sold something crazy 80,000 tickets - think of Wembley and you get an idea of the number of people who have been to this show and they're back again for a very limited run in the West End from April the 30th this year as well. 
 
The music from the show, which Ella composed alongside Ladysmith, was released separately and won a Grammy nomination and then they went on, Ladysmith, to win a Grammy award. 
 
The ladies have been to the Grammys, they've also been to the Royal Variety Show alongside the likes of Ed Sheeran, Shirley Bassey, Simon Cowell etc.  Ella has worked with the likes of Bruno Mars, remixing in his music, and David Arnold, the composer of several of the James Bond scores. Whereas Pietra has danced all the classic ballets as a royal ballet ballerina and her ability as a choreographer and creative director has helped the duo win a 'woman of the future' nomination for arts and culture. 
 
They're celebrating 10 years as the Sisters Grimm, an incredible story spanning many different continents, just been up for an export champion award as well, looking at China, Japan and Dubai this year but they are back in the UK for a limited time
 
I'm going to start off by asking Pietra to explain exactly who the Sisters Grimm are and what they do and the obvious question, of course, about where that name came from. 
 
Let's start up!