HARARE – For someone who went to South Africa six years ago as a virtually unknown musician, Bulawayo-born Berita Gugugulethu Khumalo (25) has exceeded all expectations.
Since 2012 when she dropped her debut album “Conquering Spirit,” Berita has won a string of awards which include Best African Pop Album at the 2013 Metro FM Music Awards, Songwriter of the Year at the 2015 edition of the Wawela Music Awards and Rising Star of the Year at the South African Afro Music Awards 2015.
The young songstress, whose debut album was awarded a gold plaque for selling over 20 000 copies, is currently in the running for the Best Female Artiste gong at the Eastern Music Awards.
It is not surprising that her prodigious talent has attracted the attention of music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi and internationally-acclaimed South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela, who both featured on her 2015 hit Mwana Wamai.
But true to the old adage – a prophet is not without honour, except in his own country-Berita’s accomplishments have not received the appreciation they deserve in her land of birth.
Berita, though she could be happier with a bigger Zimbabwean audience, she insisted in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday that she was appreciative of the support she is currently getting.
“Currently Zimbabwean radio stations are playing my music. I am thankful for the support as well. I get wonderful messages online from Zimbabweans in the diaspora as well,” she said from her base in the Eastern Cape.
The rising singer, who grew up listening to Mtukudzi, the late Chiwoniso Maraire, Lovemore Majaivana and several urban grove stars, is keen to make her brand more recognised in Zimbabwe.
“I hope to do collaborations with artistes from my homeland. Yes, I am friends with a lot of Zimbabwean artistes, and in the near future I will definitely collaborate.
“I love my girls Ammara Brown, Cynthia Mare and Tariro Ne Gitare. And of course, I am loving music by the talented Bryan K; I believe he is one to watch,” she said.
Sadly, Berita won’t be performing in Zimbabwe any time soon.
“Not in the calendar right now but I definitely hope to play in both Harare and Bulawayo,” she said.
The songstress was, however, quick to point out that she aspires to be much more than a popular Zimbabwean artiste.
“I am grateful for the audience I have in South Africa where I have received massive support. But I also believe it is important for me to view myself as an African artiste and expand my audience beyond Southern Africa into other parts of North, East and West Africa and ultimately the rest of the world. I am an African Jewel. I am a multi award winning, singer-songwriter and guitarist. I am a lover of life, music, people and my continent,” said Berita, who believes the type of music she plays has a global appeal.
“My music falls under a South African genre called Afrosoul. A legendary genre established in the days of the late great Mirriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu and Dorothy Masuka. Afrosoul is originally rooted in Jazz and African world music, live instrumentation, soul and of late contemporary gospel as well.”
Berita, who briefly lived in New Zealand, believes her music will strike the right chord with people of many nationalities.
“I was born in Bulawayo and raised in Zhombe where my dad is from. I moved with my parents to the diaspora, living in New Zealand for three years as a teenager where my parents now work as dairy farmers.
“Experiencing the difficulties of being immigrants with my family, inspired the need in me to have a voice, and I believe that’s when my voice was born. I moved to South Africa in the Eastern Cape January 2011 to study financial information systems and secretly to pursue my heart’s desire which was music,” the award-winning artiste said.
The Thandolwethu hit-maker’s last album was Songs of Empowerment (2014). She is currently working on her third album.
“My brand new album is coming out this April 2017. I write most of my music, and occasionally I collaborate with composers and other songwriters. I recently released my new single called Surprises which is off my self-titled upcoming album,” Berita said.