Video : Zahara – Her Music and Life, Live on AM Live NTV


In 2012, South Africa’s most beloved newcomer, Zahara, shed some serious tears on stage during a performance. This happened while the multi-award winning singer took to the stage at the Tribute to South African Music Heroes concert at Moretele Park in Mamelodi, Pretoria on 1 September 2012.

Two years prior the singer had no idea what her fate in music would be. She had no idea she’d become the biggest selling artist of 2011 with her debut album Loliwe. Or that she would sell out music stores in only 72 hours.

She probably had no idea she’d sing for the likes of Nelson Mandela or clean out at the Metro FM Awards, or even cause a stir in Zimbabwe or perform in London with Zakes Bantwini, yet this has been her life in the past year.

This is probably why the singer, whose full name is Bulelwa ‘Zahara’ Mkutukana, has these moments of reflection on stage. Sowetan quoted the singer’s words after a performance of Umthwalo where she said: “I grew up in a village where not many made it to Matric and singing was regarded as something that was done at church, not as a career.”

“Whenever I sing the song, I think back on my childhood, my family and the time when I wrote this song two years ago,” she explained.

After months and months of trying to get a hold of the star, I finally caught up with Zahara who, judging by her management team, is safely guarded and unattainable to the press. A level of suspicion is always aroused when such things happen, so it was a pleasant surprise to speak to an articulate and very witty Zahara. Why had they been hiding her for so long?

“I think the reality kicked in when I was in London and when I performed for Tata Mandela that you know what? This is my life,” says the star.

“There was Metro FM Awards, then the SAMA awards and I kept winning and breaking records and I couldn’t believe it and now we’re onto new things with the DVD so it’s only now that I’m actually getting the time to go ‘Wow this is me’,” she laughs.

With all the success, the reports of her being exploited by her record company, T.S Records, soon followed, then you had Thandiswa Mazwai reaching out to the singer through social network twitter and T.S Records hitting back at the media. Zahara still seems unscathed from it, even though she has been at the helm of it all. It can be scary for an artist who has done so well on their debut to maintain the same standard. “It’s not scary, because I even remember before recording my album I was still writing, still performing and I’m still going to write my songs from the heart, songs about my background and my experiences,” she says.

The award-winning singer says even the experiences that she’s gone through in her year of success will be turned into songs, because she has been constantly writing and recording them.

She says throughout the drama and glitz, she couldn’t have made without her family’s support and advice. “It’s the way I was raised, people like my mom always supported me and gave me advice,” she says.

This is comforting news for South Africa and our new music darling, because she has a level head, a strong upbringing, and her feet still firmly on the ground – and those are super weapons to have in your arsenal when battling it out in the cut-throat entertainment industry.

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