by: BULALI DYAKOPU
raychauke From the rural areas of Phumlani (Outside East London), the Eastern Cape born sensational musician Zahara restored the local music industry with her soulful music within days after her debut album, Loliwe was released.
The 23 year old, whose real name is Bulelwa Mkutukana, went multi-platinum in 3 weeks of her debut album. This includes striking gold (20 000) in two weeks time, and going on to rack up sales in surplus of 200 000 (and counting) at an exceptional 4000 CDs a day.
The singer, who specialises in neo-soul and Afro-pop, expected none of this when she began recording her album a few months ago. Her soulful music caters for the young and old, hence her hit single, Loliwe has been sung in every corner. Zahara describes herself as a guitarist, vocalist, sings from the heart and loves God. The cover of her album she rocks up the traditional look that gives her the essence of the girl next door with her ethnic hair pulled back, and of course always having the guitar with her.
The guitar symbolises the dreams she has had with that guitar since the hard days of dreaming unthinkable dreams. And even with the success hailing her way, the guitar is there to guide her through. In accordance, songs like Mthwalo and Lengoma reflect her life and what she has gone through. Even so, as a local musician, she didn?t sprung free from the on going piracy of albums in South Africa.The Daily Sun ran a page 3 story about Thandisile Sidina, a fan who spotted hawkers selling pirated Zahara CDs for five rand in Johannesburg. While most lyrics are in isiXhosa and her voice undeniably draws comparisons to her local predecessors, the guitar and piano melodies are international. Xa Bendingena Mama and Thekwana distinctvelly focus on her pulling the roots back into South Africa, with a warm feeling of wanting to a traditional dance style it called umxhentso ?a heavy downward pounding of the ground with alternating feet usually accompanied drum rhythms and multiple-voices that you go according to.
Thembinkosi Nciza with S’busiso Leope (DJ S’bu), owns TS Records, the record label that Zahara is on – met her after seeing her play in East London last year.
The TS Record team listened to her sing and told me they were going back to Johannesburg with her. That was the first time she had set foot in Johannesburg, or on a plane.
Local singers including Simphiwe Dana, Miriam Makeba and even US star Tracy Chapman Z are compared to other. Though many dispute this claim but it is undoubtedly true that she has revolutionised the music industry.
By the end of the year she will be off to France and Holland and will later take on US early next year.