Bulelwa Mkutukana, , popularly known as Zahara, is feeling on top of the world following the release and immediate success of her new album, “Mgodi”, which was certified gold in just six hours and went platinum in under 24 hours of release.
Huff Post SA caught up with the multiple award-winning songstress, who gave us the lowdown on her musical journey, her love for her guitar and how her faith got her through the most difficult time of her life.
We also found out what makes her tick…
Explaining why she named the latest offering “Mgodi”, she said: “It’s not a gold mine as many have assumed — it rather symbolises a time in my life when I felt like I was being chased after and I needed a place to hide. So, in that situation, you dig a ditch for yourself and you hide until your enemies have passed. The twist, however, is that when calm has been restored and you want to get out of the ditch, you then realise that in all the madness, you did not take a rope or a stepladder with you and there is no one to help you up.”
She said she owes the success of the album to her fans, or rather the “Zahara army”, as she’s dubbed her supporters.
Mkutukana said she did not believe in creating hype ahead of her album releases. She told us why.
“I’m not about the fame or making hits. I am just here to tell my story through great music that people have come to know me for. If I wanted to be famous, I would probably have released a single to test the waters and check if people like the sound and see whether or not they would but the album, but that is not who I am and it’s not what I set out to do,” she said.
“The only album I have ever released a single out of was ‘Loliwe’ because I was introducing myself. From then on, I did things my way. I feel that people who love what I do always buy my albums — I believe that in me telling my story, people relate and we find each other which I appreciate,” Mkutukana said.
Zahara is no stranger to bad press. From her failed engagements to details of her personal life, she’s been through it all.
Here’s how it affected her: “I never attend parties or red carpets events unless it’s awards shows [where] I’m being nominated or performing at. I don’t hang out with celebrities, neither is my life out there. But often, tabloids will report on my life based on so-called sources that I don’t even believe exist,” she said.
She said, at times, she was weary to go to a filling station on a Sunday “because I never know what would have been written about me on that day”.
But after all is said and done, Zahara finds strength and comfort in her faith and inner circle:
“My mom is my prayer partner. At times, I would phone her crying, telling her how much I wanted to pack up and go back home and she’d pray with me and encourage to steer on. She is my pillar and I draw my strength from her,” she said.
Also, every morning when I wake up and I look at that guitar of mine, I know that everything will be okay.
Mkutukana owns a record label, MLH Records and has recently signed an international distribution deal with Warner Music.