Zahara tells her story in her latest album, Mgodi. Picture Ayanda Ndamane
AFTER some time away from the limelight, one of the country’s biggest selling artists, Zahara, has released a new album.

It will album will tell the tale of the 29-year-old’s experience and hardships over the past six years in the industry. The 12-track album, titled Mgodi, which means hole, went gold within just six hours of release and platinum in 20 hours.

The album also hit the number two spot on the iTunes top 100 downloads chart and number one in the country on the day it was released last month.

Born Bulelwa Mkutukana, the guitarist-singer smashed South African record sales in 2011 when she cracked the 200 000 unit sales mark in a month and reached gold status within 72 hours for her debut album, Loliwe.

Earlier this week, Cape Town fans could not help but stop her for selfie in St George’s Mall in the CBD.

“I do it to inspire people; young and old look up to me because my music tells of a story many can relate to. I have won 39 awards, 17 of which are Samas, and recently I won an award for best South African composer in America, but none of that matters to me.

“I just want other young people in villages like Phumlani, where I come from in the Eastern Cape, to know anything is possible; life is full of endless possibilities and they should live their dreams,” she said.

Sitting in a quiet corner of a restaurant, Zahara spoke of the true meaning of the album.

She told the tale of how she had begun to feel like she had slipped into a dark hole after she left her former record label, TS Records.

“I felt I was not taken care of at TS, so I sat and thought that this was my God-given talent and no one can take it away from me. I just left, had no plan or anywhere to go but I left,” she said.

“I was in a hole with no means of getting out. I had no rope to get out, but my faith in God pulled me through.

“In this album I tell my story throughout, from track one right through to 12. I know some will relate to it and all those who said ‘Zahara was down and out and is a drunk’, have all gone and bought the album because they too can relate,” she said.

“This album is about my journey, everything I have been through. I speak about my life, tell my story.

“Mgodi is about being chased, like journalists chasing me for no reason. You never see me holding a beer bottle or at a club, but people say I have a drinking problem.”

Zahara left the five-year long relationship with the record label in September last year.

Eight months later, she signed a deal with Warner Music and her new venture MLH - a record label she started with a friend Sanele Dlamini, where she is the only artist.

She said she hoped not only to represent South Africa, but the whole of Africa when she tours the US next year.

Leading up to the concerts, Zahara will write two songs for American saxophonist and songwriter Kirk Whalum, who she has also featured on her latest offering.

She broke into tears when she spoke of the collaboration and newly formed relationship with Whalum.

“You know, he came looking for me; he wanted to do a project with me but when he found that I was in studio he insisted I feature him on a song or two and indeed, I feature him on Umfazi and Ina Mvula, tracks four and five on the album.”

“It is not every day, and not every artist, who is sought by legends such as he. Kirk flew himself here and, after we were done recording, he knelt before me and prayed. He then said he did not understand what I say in my music but my music touches his soul.”

Zahara will fly to the US in two weeks to record two other songs which will feature on Whalum’s album, due to be released next year.

Zahara’s album is available in stores and on iTunes.

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