Renowned South African musician, Zahara passes on

On 12 December 2023 at 07:20

South Africa bids farewell to the incomparable jazz and soul icon Zahara, born Bulelwa Mkutukana, whose melodious hits such as ’Loliwe’ and ’Umthwalo’ graced the charts. Reports indicate that the artist died on Monday, December 11, at a private Johannesburg Hospital, succumbing to liver complications after a two-week hospitalization.

Her Fiancé Mpho Xaba stood by her side during her final moments, as confirmed by a reliable source close to the family, who expressed the family’s intention to issue a statement soon.

In memoriam: Zahara’s musical legacy

Zahara’s musical odyssey, marked by chart-toppers like ’Ndize,’ ’Loliwe,’ and ’Umfazi,’ unfolded across five studio albums. Her presence resonated beyond borders, with performances in Rwanda, notably gracing the stage at Kigali Jazz Junction in both 2018 and 2019.

Zahara’s remarkable talent even earned her a performance for the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

Her ascent to stardom commenced with the signing of a record deal with TS Records, propelling her debut album ’Loliwe’ in 2011 to double platinum status. Subsequent releases, including ’Phendula’ (2013) featuring hits like "Phendula," "Impilo," and "Stay," solidified her as a household name. The third album, ’Country Girl’ (2015), attained triple platinum certification.

Post her departure from TS Records, Zahara inked a deal with Warner Music, where she unleashed her best-selling album, ’Mgodi,’ in 2017. In 2021, her fifth album, ’Nqaba Yam,’ soared to number 1 on the iTunes charts, a testament to her enduring impact.

A trailblazer’s accolades

Zahara’s illustrious career was adorned with accolades, boasting 17 South African Music Awards, three Metro FM Awards, and a Nigeria Entertainment Award. Her influence extended globally, earning her a place on the BBC’s 100 Women list in 2020. Furthermore, she brought her insightful perspective to the 17th season of Idols South Africa in 2021, serving as a guest judge.

As we reflect on Zahara’s unparalleled contributions to the world of music, her legacy remains etched in the hearts of fans and fellow artists alike. South Africa mourns the loss of a true musical luminary whose melodies will endure through time.

Loliwe hitmaker Zahara Mkutukana has passed away. Image: Twitter/ZaharaSA