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Berita Khumalo fairytale rise


JOHANNESBURG — Berita Khumalo took her place among the constellation of South African stars when Conquering Spirit, her debut album, was honoured with the Metro FM award for Best African album, a huge achievement for a maiden offering.


Born Gugulethu Khumalo, 22 years ago in Bulawayo, Berita’s fairytale run has seen her strumming her way into listeners’ hearts across the continent within a short space of time.

Thandolwethu, one of the singles from her award winning album has been remixed by the legendary Oscar “Oskido” Mdlonga.

The petite songstress has also earned approving nods from South African music heavyweights like Ringo Madlingozi.

“There is no secret or fairytale. God has put me in this path and I glorify him for meeting wonderful people, like Oskido and Ringo Madlingozi,” Berita says of her escalator-like rise.

“The Afro-soul songstress says that the defiant title of her album was inspired by the name of the eleventh track, which references struggles at a continental as well as personal level.

“Conquering Spirit pays homage to African heroes and talks about the struggles that African countries have faced,” she says.
The album title has also become a symbol of the multiple struggles Berita faced when birthing the remarkable album.

Berita recalls how together with her team they survived a nearly fatal car accident earlier last year.


This brush with death became a huge turning point in her musical career.

“I was alive and it proved to me that music was my purpose and I had to pursue it with all my heart body and soul,” she says with conviction.

The soulful vocalist reflects even further back to the conception and subsequent recording Conquering Spirit.

“I was young and naïve and to this day it amazes me when I listen to how mature the messages in my songs are,” she says of her emotional state then.

Artistes share an almost spiritual connection with their instruments and it has been reported that Berita is so much in love with her guitar that she shares her bed with it.

Her initial choice of instrument was however driven by concerns of a more practical nature.

“You can take your guitar to the streets and you can play anywhere where as a piano is very hard to carry around,” she says about her initial attraction to the stringed instrument.

Apart from her beloved guitar, Berita says that the other “loves” in her life are her family, friends and management team.

It’s nearly impossible to describe the joy an artist feels when they first hear their song played on radio.

For Berita, that magical moment came when an excited group of her friends rushed into her university hostel room, screaming at the top of their voices that she should turn on the radio.

“It was the most amazing feeling ever, tears ran down my face, I could feel that God had started answering my prayers,” she says of the defining moment.


Another treasured experience etched in Berita’s memory is when Oskido asked her to perform Thandolwethu with him to a bumper crowd of over 40 000 people at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

“It was crazy. I ran around and felt such great energy!” remarks a hyped Berita. She is respectful of the Zimbabwean greats such as Oliver Mtukudzi and Lovemore Majaivana.

It’s therefore quite poignant that she has recorded a duet with the former, as well as received from him what she considers to be the best piece of professional advice.

“Baba Oliver Mtukudzi kept it simple. He told me to be myself, to focus on myself and my music,” she says of the career advice rendered by Zimbabwe’s senior superstar.

During the recording of the still to be released single, the younger star struck artist was also touched by the humility the veteran musician displayed.

“We laughed a lot and cracked jokes, he constantly called me daughter,” she recalls.

Berita is currently in her final year of a Financial Information Systems degree at Walter Sisulu University in the South African coastal town of East London.

Numerous young artists often drop their studies to focus on their musical careers, but as the daughter of two teachers, it’s unsurprising that Berita has opted to complete her degree.

“I’m a first born of five children and I want all my brothers and sisters to be graduates,” she says.

Balancing academic commitments and a fledgling music career does become quite hectic at times. This juggling act has, however, helped Berita steer clear of the drugs, promiscuity and other reckless pursuits that bedevil many young starlets.

“I focus on my music and my schoolwork so I don’t have much time to engage in other activities,” the passionate songbird says.

A principled upbringing where church was held at the Khumalo home every Sunday has also helped Berita keep a level head thus far.

“My father doesn’t smoke or drink, so I live by the principles that I was taught at home,” asserts the soft-spoken singer. The firmly grounded artist does however have moments when her feet float above terra firma.

“When I have time I would like to go bungee jumping, and ride on a big balloon, anything that takes my feet off the ground,” she says about her love for heights. Berita, who adopted her mother’s name as a way of honouring her, maintains very intimate links to her homeland.


When I call her she animatedly tells me she is ecstatic about being “back” in the rural areas.“Bhudi it’s so refreshing to be out here,” exclaims Berita.

Her childhood has an interesting trajectory where she reminisces about a sojourn in New Zealand where the Khumalo family briefly stayed in pursuit of greener pastures.

—Woman Magazine

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