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Kelly Khumalo is blocking out the noise and reclaiming her narrative

Kelly Khumalo. Picture: Supplied

Kelly Khumalo. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 5, 2022


Kelly Khumalo is blocking out the noise and reclaiming her narrative

Despite a flourishing music career and a few blossoming businesses, Kelly Khumalo appears to take more pride in motherhood than anything else.

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Before we sat for a chat at the chic Blaque Continental Bistro in Bryanston, she made sure to have breakfast with her two young children after gym before she embarked on her typically busy schedule.

Recently, she hosted a luxurious party for her daughter Thingo’s eighth birthday, one which we got a glimpse of through some stunning, glossy pics on her Instagram page.

“It was a weekend full of kids,” she says, her tone expressing both pride and tiredness.

“It went extremely well. I was working under pressure because I’d been working (nonstop) and now it’s March and she’s been talking about this birthday and how she’s looking forward to it for a while.

“So obviously I have to run up and down, get the decor right, a spit braai and a cake, and invitations for the friends.”

Kelly Khumalo. Picture: Supplied

Thingo is Kelly’s daughter with her late former boyfriend, Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.

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Many might see it as a lot of work for an 8th birthday, but Kelly is determined to do whatever it takes it try and give her children what she didn’t have growing up.

"I want my kids to understand what it means to grow up in a happy and loving home where you are nurtured, where a birthday, mother’s day and Christmas are a big deal.”

Barely 24-hours before Kelly and I met, Netflix announced that it would be premiering a new Netflix documentary series titled "Senzo: The Murder of a Soccer Star" on the 7th of April.

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Kelly made it clear early on that she wouldn’t be sharing any remarks on this doccie, Jub Jub or any other "negative noise", saying sharply, "This right now is my platform that I've spent 18 years of hard work building so that I can sit here and have a conversation with you, therefore I will not glorify those people or anything or any negative noise by putting it on my platform." Noted.

In a career marked by undeniable success of Kelly’s own making, controversial topics such as this have loomed persistently.

Instead of sinking into the muck of the negative comments, Kelly has chosen to look forward.

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Not only by continuing to make hits, but also by channelling the power of meditation, which she recently took on, prayer, silence and solitude.

Despite being dressed in all red, Kelly's smile is what stands out most, even though she flashes it sparingly.

After a difficult start to the year that saw Kelly lose her long-time DJ and friend Jacob Titus Kotu, known professionally as Teekay, Kelly is getting back into the swing of things and expecting to release the follow-up to 2020s wildly successful album, "The Voice of Africa (TVOA)" around July/August.

Expectations will be high following TVOA's commercial success, which Kelly says is actually by far the most successful album of her career.

"Even my first one wasn’t as big. It’s insane. Last year when we looked at the streams that we could gather at that time, it was sitting on 38 million streams, so you can only imagine where it’s sitting now.”

Kelly says the album's success surprised her and it’s one project that she underestimated.

“I’m a singer, I really sing, I’m gifted in that department. There was way less singing — I just threw a little of this and that here and there — so to me it was like, ‘Hau that’s it’.

“But people know I can sing, now we’re creating singalongs for the people, and that’s exactly what happened with the album, people are singing.

“Even with the one we’re busy with, it’s not for me, it's for the people.”

"Empini", the album's lead single, has also become the biggest song of her career thus far. When she was working on it, she says she knew she was into something special, but the back and forths with her producer, Mondli Ngcobo, who originally had four different versions of the song, were taxing.

“He went Mia (missing in action) for two weeks to work on the song and when he came he came back he had added some elements and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m mad at you but I love you at the same time’ because I felt like people could relate to the elements of the song that he had added.”

Sometimes less is more. While "Empini" didn’t see Kelly belting out that booming voice of hers, it saw her coasting and resonating with the masses more than ever. Now, more than ever, she’s excited about the next chapter of her career.

“I was in a brainstorming meeting with the Universal team, including my team and the visual team, and it was just this mind blowing thing I never thought I’d get to eventually,” she says, gushing over what’s to come.

“For the first time I feel like I’ve not been singing, I’ve not been working and for the first time I’m actually now working.

“You can feel it because your creative juices are literally flowing because you are enjoying what you’re doing and also you’re able to just put it out there the way that you see it. It’s so exciting, it’s beyond me."

Kelly is also focused on building her new skincare range, Kelly Khumalo Skin by Bioquantine. There are other ventures she's not privy to speak on right now, but will be sharing in due course.

Kelly Khumalo. Picture: Supplied

On the 15th of April, Kelly will be hosting the first annual Gospel Explosion concert at the Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg.

"We are exploding, literally," she says.

"It's been a long time coming. I've always wanted to reflect every now and then on who I am, what sustains me and the power behind the person I am. That's how Gospel Explosion was born.

“Initially it was supposed to be ’I Look To You’ before the first lockdown and then we had to cancel everything."

Lockdown was a blessing and a curse for her. Despite a lot of work opportunities coming to a halt, the lockdown allowed her to reflect, uncover and deal with things she hadn't faced head on.

"Musically I was ready, but emotionally and spiritually I don't think I was. I was not going to reflect what is needed. Now is the time."

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