Picture: Karen Sandison
Music runs in the Khumalo family.

So it was only natural for Zandie Khumalo to embrace the God-given talent and start releasing her own music for the world to hear.

When she was younger, her grandmother would make umqombothi and invite the neighbours over to the family home.

“She would sing these songs and as people left the house they would be singing them word for word. When I asked where she got the songs from, she would say she just made them up. I would always be so amazed at that gift,” said Khumalo.

Fast forward a couple of years and the newly married woman is now releasing her first album.

Khumalo didn’t think she would take up singing as a career but it was when she met her now husband that the seed was planted.

“I used to visit him and I would sing in the kitchen not knowing what he did in the music industry and him not knowing that I could sing,” she said.

Khumalo got married to music stable Mabala Noise’s communications manager Hloni Gumede in October.

After he heard her voice, he asked her to get into a studio and record some music.

She was hesitant at first but eventually agreed to it.

“We tried it out with what is now my first single Themba. The song came out beautifully. I remember just after the wedding, on the Sunday, he told me to tune into the radio and my song started to play,” she said.

Singer Zandie Khumalo is letting her music do the talking for her this year. Picture: Karen Sandison/ANA Pictures

Even though she initially wanted to keep the song for herself - to listen to and find out what she needed to improve on - she was elated to hear it on the radio.

“I was crying. I was in tears. I called my sister and everyone all at once.

“It was an exciting time.”

Her latest release, Bittersweet, is close to her heart.

“When the song was sent to me, I liked it because it sounded different and right now because I am new in the industry I want to be different,” she said.

Khumalo said listening to the message of the song spoke volumes to her and she wanted to share that feeling with others.

“Every time I play it to a person or a friend or a group of ladies looking for their opinion on the song, they all embrace it.

“I know a lot of women can relate; everyone in their lives has been through a bitter-sweet moment not just with a lover but with friends and family,” she said.

For the last 12 years, Khumalo has been a dancer and back-up singer for her sister Kelly.

“We do everything together, I think at some point we were supposed to be twins but it just didn’t happen,” she joked.

She said even though she has tried to separate herself through image, style and performance from her sister, it just won’t shake off.

“I have gone the extra mile believe you me. I have tried so much but it seems like it is what it is, I must just find a way to just live with it, you know,” she said.

The singer laughs about all the ways she has tried to change her image from resembling that of her sister but to no avail.

“There is always that one person that will come and say ‘wow you guys look so much alike’ then you wonder, what’s the point of trying so hard to be different. I might as well live my life and enjoy it. I don’t know what the plan is but maybe God knows better.”

This year, Khumalo plans on finishing her album titled Izikhali Zamantungwa - her clan name.

“My album title was chosen because I wanted to take a step back and look at how far my family has come. We praise God and we also believe in the ancestors and so I wanted to thank them for carrying me this far and giving me so much for always being there for me in good times and in bad,” she said.

Khumalo describes herself as a versatile artist but her first love will always be soul music.

She shot the video for Bittersweet last week and plans to do an album tour to focus on getting herself out there.

“From this album, I want people to learn from it and relate to it. Everything that I talk about in my music is mostly things that most people have experienced at some point. So I’d rather have people that can relate to and fall in love with what I do and with me.”

Outside of music, the singer plans to stretch her talents and try her hand at acting.

“When you’re in the entertainment industry, there are really no limits.”

Her song Bittersweet is available on iTunes now.