QUEEN of gospel Rebecca Malope is the country's top-selling musician and has raked in at least R30million.
EMI recording company marketing director Orack Shabangu yesterday revealed that Malope has now sold at least 3,7million records.
Shabangu's disclosures were made at the company's head office in Sandton, northern Johannesburg, when they celebrated Malope's 41st birthday yesterday.
This means that the late Brenda Fassie is the only South African who has sold more music than Malope.
Malope's rise started in 1991 when she dropped bubble gum music to concentrate on gospel. Since then she has become bigger and bigger in the industry.
Top musos such as Malope get between 15 and 25percent of their CD sales. A CD sells at an average of R40 at retail. This means Malope must have pocketed at least R30million in her 20-year career.
Malope received a cheque for an undisclosed amount from EMI yesterday and two awards for her achievement.
"She has achieved so much and she has shown that she is very creative," Shabangu said.
"Her humility and her creative nature made working with her an enjoyable experience. Whenever she is low she calls me for advice and the same when she is doing well. We call each other partners for this reason."
Thokozani Nkosi, the executive producer of the popular TV show Gospel Times, presented her portrait.
"When we wanted somebody to present this show we had no doubt who we wanted," Nkosi said. "We did not even have to hold an audition.
"We went straight for Rebecca Malope. And guess what, the show became a hit, shooting straight to the top of the rating as one of the SABC's Top Five shows.
"She is really an achiever who pursued gospel at a time when it was not doing well. Now it is a multibillion rand industry," Nkosi said.
Malope was just as excited.
"I feel so excited about this, let alone turning 41," she said.
"That is why I am not ashamed of revealing my age. So many people these days struggle even to reach 40."