Lulu Dikana has a voice that thrills

New album from Zonke's sis

ARE singers and sisters Lulu and Zonke Dikana the same?

This is one question many music fans would love to have an answer to.

"My sister is a talented musician with a great voice, but then my voice is different from hers. We are quite distinct . (you couldn't) mistake one for the other," says Afro-soul vocalist Lulu Dikana.

Tall, talkative and quite confident, she is one of the two Dikana sisters currently making waves on the Afro-soul and jazz scene with their beautiful voices and songwriting skills.

Born at Lungisa in Eastern Cape, Lulu and her sister Zonke come from a musical family, with their father, Viva Dikana, having shared his drumming skills with the world before he died in 2009, and their stepmother Anneline Malebo, also deceased, having made her name on the musical scene, particularly as a member of the 1980s pop sensation Joy.

Listening to soul and Afro-jazz artist Lulu's new CD, This is the Life, one gets the sense that it is definitely international in its feel and flavour, a radical departure from her debut album, My Diary, My Thoughts, released in 2008.

My Diary, My Thoughts, is the sort of album that you could listen to anywhere in the world, but you can tell that it is distinctively and proudly South African.

As far as production quality is concerned, both albums are quite outstanding.

And yes, on the new album, there are songs that show a connection between it and the first, but then you could easily mistake it for having been cooked up somewhere else in the world besides South Africa.

It meets international standards, with its strong lyrics dealing with contemporary, universally appealing issues. But, compared with the first CD, it has a strong R&B feel.

Then there is something that Lulu and her sister Zonke have in common.

Both of them are signed to the same recording label and talk of family affairs under one roof.

"I did the first three songs of the first album with Kalawa, and it was definitely strong with regard to its local elements. But, I finished the rest of the songs on the album at Universal Music, where I was signed.

"What happened is that while I was waiting to sign on the dotted line with Kalawa, and the contract had been drawn up, I was offered another contract with Universal Music.

"I accepted and signed it. It was actually very difficult for me to tell (Kalawa boss) Oskido.

That was a big relief because I was not sure how the Kalawa guys were going to take it."

That was then, but now Dikana has a brand-new album to take care of under a new recording label.

"What I initially wanted was an artist management contract.

"I got more than I had bargained for when the label said they were interested in more than just managing me after listening to my album.

"But because I still owed two albums to Universal Music as per our contract, they offered to buy me out.

"That shows the confidence they have in my talent as an artist."

You can catch Lulu at the Oude Meester Ekurhuleni Comes Alive concert at the Birchwood Hotel on March 10. The singer will be sharing the stage with Tsepo "Village Pope" Tshola and the band Soul.