Margaret Singana

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Margaret Singana
Birth nameMargaret M'cingana
Also known asLady Africa
Queenstown, Union of South Africa
Died22 April 2000(2000-04-22) (aged 62)
GenresWorld music, Afro-soul
Years active1970s, 1980s

Margaret Singana, born Margaret M'cingana (1938 – 22 April 2000) was a South African musician.

Early life[edit]

Margaret Nomvula M'cingana was born in Queenstown, Eastern Cape, the daughter of Agnes M'cingana. In the 1950s, she moved from Queenstown to Johannesburg in the then Transvaal, where she found work as a domestic servant.[1]

Music career[edit]

While she was working as a domestic worker, Margaret Singana was discovered singing while cleaning.[2] Her employers were so impressed that they recorded her voice and sent the tape to a record company. The producers of the musical Sponono, written by Alan Paton, gave her a part as a chorus singer in 1964. "Singana" was an adaptation of her surname "M'cingana", meant to be easier for other language speakers to pronounce.[3]

In the 1970s Singana started performing with The Symbols. In 1972 she made "Good Feelings" with the band,[4] the single reached No. 2 on the old LM Hit Parade. In 1973, Singana was cast as the lead singer in the musical, Ipi Tombi, and soon made herself famous with the song "Mama Tembu's Wedding". In 1977, Singana's song "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You" became a hit. She had a stroke in 1980 and suffered from bad health for many years[2] but, in 1986, she made a comeback with the song "We Are Growing", which was the theme song from the television series, Shaka Zulu. Her 1984 album Ishipwo Sam was more traditional, with the band Bayete providing backup.[1]

Singana received many awards, including the 1976/1977 critics award from the British magazine, Music Week, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.[1] She was known as "Lady Africa" in Southern Africa.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Singana was married to jazz bassist Mongezi Velelo.[2] She died in April 2000, in Soweto, after a long illness[5] and in destitution.[6] In 2005 her work was remembered with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the South African Music Awards.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Max Mojapelo, Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments, and Memories of South African Music (African Minds 2008): 87-88. ISBN
  2. ^ a b c Peter Makurube, "Lady Africa is Waiting" Mail & Guardian (18 December 1998).
  3. ^ Marianne Stamm and P. J. Powers, P. J. Powers – Here I Am (Penguin UK 2014). ISBN 9780143531524
  4. ^ Margaret Singana - Discomuseum
  5. ^ a b Margaret Singana - South African History Online
  6. ^ Africa: Farewell To A Golden-Voiced Songstress - AllAfrica

External links[edit]