Zahara in full bloom on new CD

ZAHARA is a name that is not only on everybody's lips but has also become an integral part of the social network system.

The interesting thing about this is that the spotlight is on the laid-back artist not because she is a pole dancer or an astronaut. Zahara, in her early 20s, is a singer and accomplished acoustic guitarist in the mould of respected icons such as Asa, Tracy Chapman, India Arie and Erika Badu.

But no matter how hard you try, you cannot put Zahara in a box. Her Afro-soulcoustic is head and shoulders above that of other sounds in her genre. She is one talent who is seemingly intent on breaking the mould and finding her own niche.

And made her own way, she has. Barely two weeks after her baptism of fire - sharing the stage with emerging legends Judith Sephuma and Chante Moore - at the Tribute Concert in Moretele Park, Pretoria, she has hit the gold disc.

Not only that. Her album is nowhere to be found and this has even added to her allure with music lovers getting more frantic by the minute to lay their hands on her brand-new offering, Loliwe.

Like her name, which means "budding flower" in Arabic, the Eastern Cape sensation is blooming.

"Not even in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself attracting so much attention and love, "she says.

"I started playing the guitar just for the love of it. As I got better I composed something that made me dare dream I could be a musician one day.

"Although my parents were happy with my latest pastime, they were not impressed when they learnt that I wanted to pursue this as a career. They wanted me to get a good education before I indulged in my fantasies."

Zahara had to suspend her studies last year due to a lack of funds.

"Instead of curling up in a corner, I began to frequent a popular local hang-out where artists found an outlet for self-expression through their music."

At the end of performances the audience voted for the following week's headliner

"At one point I just became a permanent headliner and that is where TS Records' TK saw me. He listened intently and talked about signing me up."

To her surprise, TK returned the following week with his musician wife, Nhlanhla Nciza, a soloist and member of Mafikizolo.

"They convinced me to come to Johannesburg to drop a CD with some of the most respected producers in the industry, including Robbie Malinga."

The result is this fresh, unique, real album with its catchy melodies, especially the title track, Loliwe, and Destiny which are currently on high rotation.

"I was allowed the freedom to keep everybody in line with my sound and, I must say, I am extremely happy with the result and reception."

Zahara has landed and will go down in the annals of music history as one of those innovative musicians who chose to leave their mark on the sands of time because they dared to think out of the box. She also dared to allow her creativity to soar like a free bird, capturing the stories of yesteryear and today in her lyrics.

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