Zahara: South Africa's Blooming Flower
Born in South Africa's Eastern Cape, Zahara has been singing since she was six years old. Her meteoric rise to fame started in her home country and word has quickly spread overseas about a lively brand of Afrosoul that evokes India Arie and Tracy Chapman.
This talented, grassroots musician mostly tours in Africa, but has begun to perform in the UK, most notably at London's O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in the next year. Tickets to enjoy her live performances are in demand, so keep an eye out for the announcement of more dates and jump on the chance to get your Zahara tickets.
Born as Bulelwa Mkutukana, her childhood nickname was "Spinach" as she was so fond of eating the tasty plant. Realising that this nickname wasn't likely to help her top the charts, the songstress went looking for alternatives. After some time on Google she found "zahara", the Arabic term for "blooming flower", and her search was over.
Early appearances in school choirs eventually led to regular performances at the Guild Theatre, in her home of East London, when she was 14. As time went on, she started performing regularly at the prestigious Talamanca Music Lounge. When she was 22, she released debut album Loliwe alongside the single of the same name.
Performances include a mix of two languages: Xhosa, and English. However, even if you don't understand the words to her songs, they remain alternately catchy and moving.
Loliwe was a huge hit and reached double platinum status in South Africa alone. The single "Loliwe" was a sensation in stores and online, rapidly achieving over one million YouTube hits. The success of the album and single was followed by critical acclaim via numerous music industry awards in South Africa and beyond, including an African Muzik Magazine Award, a Nigerian Entertainment Award, and a Feather Award.
Her success led to much more high-profile shows, supporting acts like Chante Moore and Judith Sephuma. The release of the 2013 EP Nelson Mandela was supported with a highly successful twelve-date tour of South Africa and an appearance at the Africa Freedom Day concert in Lusaka.
2011's Loliwe put Zahara on the map. After her initial success, the singer waited until 2013 to release two more records: the Nelson Mandela EP and album Phendula. The "Nelson Mandela" single made it to number one in South Africa, and led to a private performance for the former President.
Phendula was another huge success with the single of the same name hitting number one on iTunes in South Africa. Her increased profile is evident in the track listing, which contains appearances from 2 Face Idibia and Ladysmith Black Mambazo among other huge African stars.
The 2012 concert DVD The Beginning Live was a huge success, and it's not surprising. Live performances are intimate, often backed with a simple guitar, and so emotionally charged even the singer is frequently moved to tears. The joy is equally palpable and it's impossible for audiences to stand still. You'll be a huge fan of Zahara's by the end of the show.
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