Zahara (South African musician)
South African Singer and Poet Zahara Performing in Nairobi, Kenya
|Birth name||Bulelwa Mkutukana|
|Also known as||Zahara|
9 November 1988 |
East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, Poet, Recording artist, Performer|
|Years active||2011 – present|
|Labels||EMI South Africa, TS Records|
|Associated acts||DJ Sbu, TK Nciza, Soweto Gospel Choir, Riot Zungu, Georgyn Kanana, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Anele & Neliswa, Mzwakhe Mbuli, Mukengerwa Tresor Riziki, LeRoy Bell, Tuface Idibia|
Zahara (born 9 November 1988) is a South African singer-songwriter, poet, and brand ambassador for the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital. She started singing in her school’s choir at the age of 6 and at age 9, she was told to join the senior choir because of her strong voice.
Zahara released her debut album Loliwe in 2011 which proved to be a big success as it went Platinum in 13 days and went double platinum after just 17 days, selling over 100,000 copies in South Africa. The music video for her debut single, "Loliwe", has eclipsed the 1.3 million views mark on YouTube. On the 1st of May 2012, at the annual South African Music Awards, Zahara won 8 awards, including "Best Female Artist" and "Album of the Year". Prior to the awards, a media storm broke out about the state of her finances which were allegedly being poorly handled by her record company. Her record company, TS records, vehemently denied the allegations.
Zahara was born as Bulelwa Mkutukana in the Phumlani Informal Settlement outside of East London in Eastern Cape, South Africa, where she lived with her parents Nokhaya and Mlamli Mkutukana. She is the sixth of seven children. She displayed her love for singing at age 6. She first came to wider attention when she was appointed the lead singer of a local Sunday school choir in Phumlani. Her stage name means "blooming flower"; as a child she was known by the nickname Spinach.
Her music is classified loosely as "Afrosoul" and she sings in her native language, Xhosa, as well as in English. Her music has been described as a mixture between the styles that have been popularized by Tracy Chapman, and India.Arie.
Zahara's debut album Loliwe was released in 2011. The first issue sold out within 72 hours and nineteen days later, the album reached double platinum status in South Africa by surpassing the 100,000 sales mark. This made her the second musician after Brenda Fassie, who was also interestingly a Xhosa native, to reach this figure in such record time. Zahara released her first Live DVD which featured X-Factor USA contestant LeRoy Bell. The DVD reached platinum (according to the standards set by the Recording Industry of South Africa) in 1 day.
- Studio albums
- Nelson Mandela EP (2013)
- Live albums
- The Beginning Live (2012)
Awards and nominations
|2014||Metro FM Music Awards||Best African Pop Album||Phendula||Pending|||
|Best Female Artist||Pending|
|Song of the Year||"Phendula"||Pending|
|2013||Nigeria Entertainment Awards||Southern African Artiste of the Year||Won|||
|19th Annual South African Music Awards||Best Collaboration||"Thetha Nami"
(Riot featuring Zahara)
|"Hold On (Bambelela)"
(Zahara featuring LeRoy Bell and the Soweto Gospel Choir)
|Best Live DVD||"The Beginning Live"||Nominated|
|MTN SAMA Record Of The Year||"Umthwalo"||Nominated|
|Best Selling Ring-Back-Tone||"Loliwe"||Won|||
|2012||Kora Awards||Best Female Artist from Southern Africa||Won|||
|Channel O Music Video Awards||Best Female Video||Won|||
|18th Annual South African Music Awards||Best Smooth Urban Music Album||Loliwe||Won|||
|Best Collaboration||"Incwad' Encane"
(Zahara featuring Georgyn Kanana)
|Best Selling Album||Loliwe||Won|
|Newcomer of the Year||"Loliwe"||Won|
|Female Artist of the Year||Won|
|Album of the Year||Loliwe||Won|
|Best Selling Full-Track Download of the Year||"Loliwe"||Won|||
|Remix of the Year||"Lengoma"
(DJ Sbu featuring Zahara)
|Hip Hop World Awards (The Headies)||African Artist Of The Year||"Loliwe"||Nominated|||
|2011||Metro FM Music Awards [A]||Best Produced Album||Loliwe||Nominated|||
|Best Female Album||Won|
|Song of the Year||"Loliwe"||Won|
|Hit Single Of The Year||"Lengoma"
(DJ Sbu featuring Zahara)
(Zakes Bantwini and Zahara)
- A ^ The Metro FM Music Awards weren't held in 2012 due to re-positioning. The award ceremony was held in 2013.
Zahara: The Beginning Live DVD
|Zahara - The Beginning Live|
|Produced by||TS Records|
|Starring||Zahara, LeRoy Bell, DJ Sbu, Soweto Gospel Choir, Riot|
|Distributed by||Musica, Kalahari, SoMusic,|
|Release dates||September 3, 2012|
|Running time||110 minutes|
|Zahara: The Beginning Live CD|
|Live album by Zahara|
Zahara: The Beginning Live is a DVD recording release that relives Zahara's two days performance at the Carnival City Concert on June 8 and 9, 2012. The DVD was produced by TS Records and distributed by Musica, Kalahari, and SoMusic, three popular South African retailers. It features popular ensemble performers that includes LeRoy Bell, DJ Sbu, the Soweto Gospel Choir, and Riot among others. The DVD was release on September 3, 2012. Within three days of its release, the DVD sold over 40,000 units, reaching double platinum status in South Africa. Moreover, the DVD was confirmed to be one of the fastest selling DVDs released in South Africa by a South African artist. During her aforementioned performance, Zahara was backed by an eight piece band that includes percussionist Tlale Makhene.
Commenting on the success of the concert and DVD recording, Zahara said "I feel that God has favoured me, this is just a blessing. It shows that if you remain true to who you are people will support you and remain faithful to you...Come to think of it, my DVD recording shows were sold out for both nights and it shows that after everyone had heard my music on the CD, they needed to see me live on stage. It is important for your audience to see how an artist interprets music and how they connect with their fans." 
Tony Da Silva of EMI Music South Africa added: "On the back of the success of Zahara's debut album we expected to do well with the DVD and are grateful that Zahara's fans continue to support her in this way. Zahara's fans have been eagerly awaiting the Live DVD and I have no doubt that they will enjoy every minute of it." 
Drum Magazine praised Zahara's performance, adding "She is a potpourri of influences which come together seamlessly and keeps earning her legions of fans across the music spectrum. She calls the concert 'a journey' in which she shares her joys, fears, highs and lows and all the things that make her who she is today. She also acknowledges God’s mercy in carrying her thus far in her career. Zahara performs all her quintessential hits from her small yet powerful songbook. She shows off her vocal prowess on Ndiza. Her performance pulls at the heart strings with her passionate and honest rendition. It is an emotional tearjerker of a song she calls 'special'...By the time confetti rains on her, Zahara had proven to be a consummate entertainer who knows her way with a live audience and takes them along for a ride in her musical train."
Zahara: The Beginning Live CD
|1.||"Liza Lisidinga Lakho" (featuring Soweto Gospel Choir)||6:12|
|2.||"Xa Bengina Mama (Live)"||4:57|
|5.||"Umthwalo" (featuring Soweto Gospel Choir)||7:05|
|7.||"African Sunset (Live)"||4:37|
|10.||"Thetha Nami" (featuring Riot Zungu)||6:04|
|11.||"Hold on (Bambelela)" (featuring LeRoy Bell)||6:57|
|12.||"My Guitar (Live)"||8:46|
|13.||"Incwadi e Ncane (Live)"||6:07|
|14.||"Loliwe" (featuring Soweto Gospel Choir)||7:43|
Nelson Mandela EP
|Nelson Mandela EP|
|EP by Zahara|
|Released||July 15, 2013|
|Producer||Robbie Malinga and Mojalefa Thebe|
Background and recording
The formulation of the EP started when Zahara released a song titled "Nelson Mandela". The song pays tribute to the civil rights activist whilst celebrating his accomplishments. When the song was played on Metro FM, it created a lot of media and social buzz. According to City Press Newspaper, the ballad "evokes strong emotions, spurred on by the relentless guitar accompaniment Zahara is known for, and her soaring, strong vocals. In the song, she calls Mandela a man of peace and a pillar of strength." Zahara commented on the song saying, "I’m very excited and emotional at the same time. I trust that South Africans and the world will receive it (the song) and appreciated it. Above all else, I’m doing this in honour of Tata Mandela."
Her manager, TK Nciza of TS Records, added "The song speaks to every South African, it’s a true reflection of who Mandela is and his commitment to the country. Even at the Rivonia Trial he said he’ll oppose white domination and black domination, only a few people commit to such. You will be able to relate to the song, whether black or white." Moreover, "She was in the studio working on a new album and we agreed that one of the first songs she must record is a tribute to Madiba. And here it is, enjoying such a great reception, and we have committed that some of the proceedings will go to the Mandela hospital for which she is an ambassador."
|2.||"Nelson Mandela (Instrumental)"||5:04|
|3.||"1 Minute of "Nelson Mandela""||1:23|
|4.||"1 Minute of "Nelson Mandela" (Instrumental)"||1:23|
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