New sensation Zahara matches the best in the music world

HEALING POWERS: Zahara has made a name for herself with her debut album, Loliwe.
HEALING POWERS: Zahara has made a name for herself with her debut album, Loliwe.

AS the local entertainment industry bids goodbye to 2011 and welcomes 2012, some things are better forgotten while others need to be embraced wholeheartedly.

The South African Music Awards under the leadership of Randall Abraham must be regretting the day they announced that kwaito would be combined with hip-hop and rap to form a new category unwisely called Street Music.

The industry, particularly the kwaito crowd, went ballistic, forcing the idea to be scrapped.

The music industry continued to suffer immensely as CD sales did not do well at all, forcing many musicians to depend on and make a living through performances only.

Many factors, especially the recession and piracy affected CD sales badly.

Sadly, a shining star of the industry for many years, Mike Maswanganye, committed suicide a few weeks ago . He was said to be in deep financial trouble . May Maswanganye's soul rest in peace.

Not everything was bad about the music industry in 2011 though.

The Metro FM Awards held in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, at the end of November, were successful.Two talented musicians dominated the awards - rapper AK and Zahara with their debut albums.

And yes, Simphiwe Dana with the release of her much loved album Culture Noire early in the year, to a large extent dealt a blow to the musical log-jam that in recent years characterised the state of our music industry.

Then Zahara released her wonderful debut album Loliwe.

The vocalist and guitarist, whose mellow voice almost has healing and calming powers, has come up with an album that is different, fresh and enjoyable to a wide range of people with varied musical tastes.

This artist intelligently mixes folk music with Afro pop, rock, maskandi, jazz, R&B and even African traditional gospel melodies. People fell in love with Zahara.

In fact, the country's showbiz is under the grip of Zahara mania, a sort of musical spell if you like.

By now she should be running all the way to the bank as CD sales are said to have hit more than 350000 within four months of Loliwe's hitting the streets.

What this means is that the new music find, Zahara, has reached phenomenal success, setting her sights to what the late pop star Brenda Fassie reached at the height of her career with Memeza, which quickly sold 500000 copies.

And it is quite understandable why Zahara achieved this feat on the competitive Afro-jazz-soul and Afro pop music scene.

There is a growing crop of musicians plying their trade in this genre locally such as Zonke Dikana, Thandiswa Mazwai, Lira, Dana, Zamajobe, Pu2ma, Lulu Dikana ... the list keeps on growing.

Zahara's voice is most probably as good as any of them, the difference being notably the acoustic guitar that she weaves so cleverly into her repertoire, creating an infectious sound that clearly has the effect of healing powers to listeners.

Internationally, Zahara is comparable to such talents as Asa from Nigeria, India.Arie, Tracy Chapman, Erika Badu, Mamani Keita and Fatoumata Diawara from Mali, but now successfully plying their trade in Paris.

If you combine everything that you know and admire about all these international artists, then you have Zahara. She is undoubtedly the new IT girl on South Africa's music scene.

So you see, not everything was bad after all.