It was almost four years ago, 2 October 2007, when I first reviewed a music album. Reviewing it on my now defunct blog, it was none other than Siphokazi’s first album, Ubuntu Ban, which I headlined: “What I ‘call true SA music’”.
Having bought and listened to the CD just a day before the review, I found Siphokazi to have been “one of the talented musicians that the country has ever had and is likely to have for the coming years”. This, I thought, was probably because she was “shy, somewhat reserved and not a media puppy like most SA artist (sic)”. Well, that was my first ever music review and a lot has changed since, e.g. Siphokazi has since released about three albums to date (I stand to be corrected). But this is of course not about Siphokazi, but about other artists that have followed her.
As you would know in this genre of music there’s been a plenty of artists who have come and gone. But to date, except a few that came after Siphokazi and many before her – I am yet to see one particular artist/musician whose music has sold that much just within weeks of its release. So, I am Zaharised.
Zahara, 23-year-old – a new female musician welcomed with open arms by many South African music lovers – had her album going so fast like fat cakes, that’s if media reports are anything to go by. This came close to Brenda Fassie’s Memeza album which apparently sold over 500000 copies within a few weeks of its release.
And the first time I saw her was on SABC1’s Live show on Friday night late last month singing one of her songs although I do not remember which one but I believe it to have been Loliwe or Lengoma, in which she featuring DJ S’bu. At that moment I was Zaharised.
Zahara’s voice was and still is so unique she reminded of other great musicians like Simphiwe Dana and Siphokazi. But one of my friends disagreed with this, saying she was better than Dana, before adding that her Zahara CD was stolen just within a couple of days after she bought it. Since its release last month and titled Loliwe, rumour has it that the album had sold out so much that the publisher had to make more copies.
Having spent almost a month away in the village where there’s lack of music stores that sells music of this kind, it was not until over a week ago, on 27 September 2011, that I bought myself a copy of Zahara’s beautiful Loliwe album. I have played the whole CD – and not selectively, I promise you – more than 8 times to date. I am so Zaharised that even at the time of writing I had it playing at the background.
What separates Zahara from other good musicians out there like Dana, Siphokazi, I told my friend today, was probably because she was a guitarist herself and therefore did not have to have someone playing a guitar for her. Instead she could play the instrument herself unlike many artists who would only have the beautiful voice, great music writing skills but fail, sort of, to play their own instruments let alone have the skills of playing such musical instruments. Zahara, on the other hand, has all that. This is self-explanatory on track 8, My Guitar.
Zahara [Bulelwa Mkutukana] said she had never imagined in her “wildest dreams” that she could attract “so much attention and love”. She said she started playing a guitar “just for the love of it” but as her skills got better, she started to compose “something that made me dare dream I could be a musician one day”. “Although my parents were happy with my latest pastime, they were not impressed when they learnt that I wanted to pursue this as a career. They wanted me to get a good education before I indulged in my fantasies”. In her last track on the album, Shine, Zahara sings of how she knew she “would shine”, a reference one can make to her popularity. And being the “shooting star” musician that she now is – it was by no surprise that she’s so brilliant at playing her guitar – something you would think she had training on but she never did, she said in an exclusive interview with MIO.
Zahara said she started performing around Eastern Capesince she was in primary school. Because she never had any formal lessons on how to play a guitar, it was only on arriving in Johannesburgthat she came to know that she was playing chord A or B. Her music is a reflection of what she believes in as a Christian, she said in an interview with MIO, before adding that: “I really want my music to touch lives and inspire people”.
She further speaks of how she “can’t remember how many of my demos were rejected by major record labels”. “Even radio stations didn’t want to play my music, and as a young artist that really set me back, but I guess God has his own time”, she said. And it is on her track (7) Lengoma that she speaks of this rejection she’d received from record labels.
On the first track, Destiny, Zahara sings of how she would keep on trying and that she knows where she is going after she had being rushed [by record labels, probably]. And she did find her destiny indeed when her prayers were answered last year March by TS Records co-founder Thembinkosi Nciza who saw her performing at a club in East London, where she was born, she told MIO in an interview.
Someone said on Facebook recently whether people who were talking non-stop about Zahara were being paid. At the time I had no idea why there was so much hype about her until I listened to the whole CD myself. At least now I know why people are so crazy about Zahara’s 12-tracks CD which is very addicted and would get you Zaharised, I should warn you.
To get Zaharised as I just have been – get yourself a copy, it’s worth every cent.
This article I first appeared on www.ilwiw.co.za on 5 September 2011.