Every year, there is a breakout star in South African music. I don’t just mean a new artist whose first song becomes big. I mean someone who shines so brightly that everyone stops what they're doing and reaches for their sunglasses.

Zahara was that when she burst onto the scene. Babes Wodumo's meteoric rise had everyone from party-goers to politicians using the word "wololo".

Who has followed that rise? We’ve had huge hits over the past few years but some of them have come from established artists. Others have come from new artists who started to get a little buzz, dipped then came out with a song that put them on a path to becoming a household name. 

Case in point: what the super-melodic Nalingi has done for Manu WorldStar, who was introduced to the country via a rappity-rap TV show.

Who did 2018 give us? Boity? She had a thriving career in entertainment before she started rapping. Wuz Dat is an undeniable smash. Her catchy follow-up single, Ba Kae, continues that reign.

Maybe it’s not just an artist issue. The rise of gqom proves that, like its predecessor Durban Kwaito, a new sound can be the breakout star. An entire sub-genre, amapiano, reached its zenith last year.

What does that mean for the potential breakout stars of 2019? Must one first get one's foot in the door by pursuing another avenue in entertainment before attempting to record a song? Are we, as a nation, moving away from creating stars?

Either way, it’s a new year and with it comes optimism. I hope we will have breakthrough acts that unify the country with their grooves. Only time will tell.

uHelenH

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