Malie Kelly was born Malie Conradie in the town of Ladybrand in the Free State. She worked alongside Miram Stockley and Mike Pilot in the groups Blush and Odyssey (the latter not to be confused with the American band of the same name who had a hit with ‘Going Back To My Roots’), but in 1980 she recorded ‘Alaska’, a song penned by Dennis East.
This catchy tune it a tale of fading love where Malie laments a relationship which ‘burned like firelight, then faded down to zero’. She tells her lover that ‘she thinks she’ll go to Alaska where ‘It couldn’t be much colder there.’ Despite these allusions to coldness, the tune itself has a sunshiney reggae lilt to it and includes a warm sax interlude which is at odds with the cooling of the love that is sung about and this sort of summarises the song as it contrasts the heat of early love and how that can cool.
Malie has a beautiful voice which she varies on this track from the power ballad strong refrains to the almost whispered, somewhat breathy, somewhat cheeky chorus.
The song would make it to 12 on the Springbok Top 20 and it would spend 7 weeks in the charts. It would be her only chart success despite recording songs like a cover of the Julian Laxton Band’s ‘Celebrate’ and an album of Afrikaans songs. She also recorded ‘Nandi’s Theme’ for the TV series ‘Shaka Zulu’. However, she made a name for herself as a gospel singer and has toured the world performing, including a 6 week stint at Madison Square Gardens in New York, but I have not been able to find out if she has ever been to Alaska. (If I ever meet her Alaska – sorry).
Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 1 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40485 (CD)