In 1960, Kubeka toured Britain and Europe with the famous jazz musical and even got an opportunity to step into a lead role for three weeks when Makeba was ill. It was Makeba who convinced Kubeka's parents to allow her to be cast in King Kong. They had already conceded to her taking up a career as a performer.
"My parents wanted me to be a nurse and didn't regard showbiz as a profession. They imagined me in that smart nurses' uniform with epaulettes but although I have a caring nature, I couldn't imagine myself working in a hospital ward. I wanted to be an entertainer."
The first-born in a family of five, she remembers that theirs was a comfortable upbringing. "We were neither rich nor poor. Our parents could afford us."
Her mother, Alice Kubeka (nee Mabaso) worked at a tobacco firm in Croesus and later became an assistant nurse at Baragwanath Hospital, hence her wish for her daughter to follow in her footsteps, she explains. Her father, Africa Zibuse Kubeka, was employed at a sweet factory.
He subsequently taught at a night school in Baragwanath Hospital. But he was better known as a football administrator. The former soccer player was also a founding member of Moroka Swallows FC in 1947.
She too would be married to a well-known football official, Kgomotso "Tso" Modise. The marriage was blessed with two children.
The former National Professional Soccer League general manager passed away in 2017. King Kong was a turning point in the history of jazz and African entertainment.
It introduced some of the best local musical talent to the international scene. It was also a passport to a new life of exile for most of these entertainers, including her mentor Makeba, who settled in the US after the jazz opera's run on British and European stages.
Kubeka chose to return and work in South Africa despite the increasing repressive political conditions under a racist government.
"In those days it was very difficult working as a black artist under apartheid. The police were always on our case.
"We experienced problems whenever we required paperwork to travel abroad for performances. Police will ask you silly questions like: 'are you going to meet Miriam Makeba?', 'what are you going to talk about?', 'just know that we are watching you...'"
"On the other hand, while abroad some of the exiles would accuse us of being sell-outs. 'Otherwise how did you get your passport?'" they will ask.
"In fact it was easy to be accused of being a sell-out. For instance, if you go into a police station where you have been summoned for some interrogation session, you were likely to be suspected of being a police spy by some ignorant people. It took a lot of courage to continue working as an artist in those days."
In the next decades she would work on the cabaret circuit with a number of illustrious jazz artists and bands of the era such as Kippie "Morolong" Moeketsi, the Malombo Jazz Makers (Julian Bahula, Abbey Cindi and Lucky Ranku), Mackay Davashe's Jazz Dazzlers and Dimpie Tshabalala's the Jazz Clan.
She has also performed to critical acclaim across venues in Africa, Europe and Asia, appearing alongside stars like Eartha Kitt, Percy Sledge and Monk Montgomery, a jazz pioneer of the electric bass guitar.
She is a leading lady in eight films, notably Dingaka (1965), Africa Shakes (1966), Knock-Out (1969), Soul Africa (1971) and Joe Bullet (1973). She has also made cameo appearances in nine local and international movies. Soul Africa is a musical that celebrates the continent's rich wildlife and diverse cultural traditions through the soul music of Percy Sledge, who appears as himself alongside Kubeka.
Joe Bullet features a stellar cast of South African screen legends such as Ken Gampu, Sol Rachilo and Cocky "Two-Bull" Tlhotlhalemaje.
In the crime thriller, Gampu plays a detective character who must stop a criminal syndicate from interfering with the fortunes of a local champion football club. Joe Bullet reportedly enjoyed only two screenings at the famous Eyethu Cinema in Soweto before it was banned by the apartheid authorities. In the eyes of the censors, a film that depicted a black man living a luxurious lifestyle was a problem.
"Banning movies and shows was part of life as a black artist. It was nothing unusual, but we took pride in our craft. We were naturally talented performers and excelled despite lack of formal training in the arts. Performers of my generation and those who came before them were products of the bioscopes. The cinema had a huge influence on our acting. We learnt by observing some of our favourite actors in action on the screen."