Bulelwa “Zahara” Mkutukane was born on the 9th of November 1988 in the rural informal settlement Phumlani just outside East London. She is the 5th of the 6 children born by Mlamli and Nokhaya Mkuthukana.
She is not just a songwriter and guitarist but also a poet and brand ambassador for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. She started singing in her school choir at the age of six and was asked to join the local Sunday school choir in Phumlani when she was nine because of her strong voice. Later, at the age of thirteen, she was made the worship team-leader in her church where she discovered her real musical talents.
Her stage name means "blooming flower" and as a child she was known by the nickname "Spinach”
Her music is classified as ‘Afrosoul’ and sings in her native language Xhosa as well as English and performs with an acoustic guitar.
After being ‘discovered’ by South African house DJ Sbu, her debut album Loliwe was released at the end of August 2011, a huge acclaim. Within just 17 days the album had gone double platinum, selling over 200 000 copies in South Africa.
Speaking about the start of her career Zahara said “When I was young, a Scottish missionary called Lorette Mkafi came to our village. That was 1986. My father was working with white people and she and my father wanted to start a church. People wanted to burn her, but my father stood up and said ‘burn me instead’. Lorette was then accepted by the community. She later took my older sister to music school where she got a guitar. I taught myself on that guitar.”
This prominent singer has a couple of albums and speaking her recent album “Umgodi” Zahara said, “All my albums carry a similar theme, which is honesty. This album shares my personal experience through my challenges and how I have overcome. Also, I feature Grammy award-winning musician Kirk Whalum- who is the saxophonist featured on Whitney Houston’s I will always love you. I now call him dad, he is a mentor and friend.
Zahara is an Multi award-winning artist, she scooped her 40th award as the Best Female South African Artist in 2018. The multi-platinum singer has performed in a private concert for the former South African President Nelson Mandela, and sang at his Tribute concert in 2013.