SA?s new lady of soul


By Lerato Lelia

Zahara is new in the industry but the singer, songwriter and guitarist from the Eastern Cape has caused quite a stir and is already making her mark and is cracking the tough South African market. Her debut album, Loliwe, is already making waves and after only 13days of release (released 25 August) it sold more than 40 000 copies giving the album platinum status.

Her sound has been described as similar to that of Simphiwe Dana and Tracy Chapman, she is the Xhosa version of Tracy with isiXhosa lyrics filling most of her album. She has a soulful sound and can be described as a Jazz artist who is willing to experiment with other genres including house music with one of her tracks, Lengoma, remixed by Dj Sbu into a house track.

The album is a personal reflection of how she struggled to get into the music industry, reflected in songs like Lengoma that provides a positive message of hope. Her soothing isiXhosa lyrics give a South African feel to her sound, which is refreshing. Her song Loliwe is being played by radio station all over the country.

Her biggest worry when it came to this album was that her producers would try to change her sound but she admitted that she likes the outcome of her songs as they reflect who she truly is, her true sound. All her songs are slow-paced and her guitar playing talent comes into play with songs such as ?My guitar? and ?Xa Bendingena Mama?, that have the expressive sounds of her love for the instrument.

She has been featured on a number of songs already with a guest appearance on Nhlanhla Nciza?s DVD and a vocal cameo on Sound Revival. Working with producers like Robbie Malinga, Zahara represents a new generation of South African female artists with a sound that is dinstinctively South African.

The only other artist to break the album sales record was Brenda Fassie with Memeza, which sold over 50 000 units a few weeks after its release. Zahara?s debut album has already set her apart from the rest who have come before her by providing a fresh sound to South African jazz and by her providing a twist with her guitar skills and mellow unique voice.

This album is definitely worth a listen, it?s simplicity is charming and Zahara has received nothing but praise for this album. It is a good start, the only question on everyone?s mind is if she will be able to keep up the hype and standard with her future releases. We can only wait and see but ?Loliwe? is definitely a good start.


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