Most painful songs for Zahara

- Article by Sowetan Live (September 4, 2012)

Zahara Mkutukane

Zahara cannot help but be moved to tears when she sings songs from her debut album, Loliwe.

"I grew up in a village where not many made it to Matric and singing was regarded as something that was done at church, not as a career," the singer said yesterday after a teary performance of Umthwalo at the Tribute to South African Music Heroes concert at Moretele Park in Mamelodi, Pretoria, on Saturday evening.

"Whenever I sing the song, I think back on my childhood, my family and the time when I wrote this song two years ago," she explained.

Songs like Ndiza, which she wrote on her first aeroplane flight to Johannesburg and My Guitar, which tells of how her guitar offers a great escape when she feels overwhelmed, also leave her emotional, the singer said.

Born Bulelwa Mkutukana, Zahara grew up in a poor family on the outskirts of East London, Eastern Cape. Her mother is a domestic worker and she is the fifth of six children.

"I know what it's like to go to school without shoes to wear and not having enough to eat," she said.

She started singing in the school choir at six years old and later joined the senior choir. She also taught herself to play the guitar, which she says was something quite rare to be doing as a woman in her village.

The songstress rose to stardom when her debut album went platinum in 13 days and double platinum on the 17th day after its release last year.

Zahara took eight South African Music Awards home earlier this year.

- Article by Sowetan Live (September 4, 2012)