South African singer-songwriter Zonke Dikana, best known as just Zonke, will perform at Carnival City's Big Top Arena in Brakpan, East Rand for one night only on 15 June 2019.
Described as a unique musical force, a raging success and an instinctive improvising singer-songwriter, Zonke’s story is one of perseverance, staying true to one’s vision, knowing yourself and building on the criticism of others. She writes and produces her own material and boasts several multiple platinum-selling albums and a list of awards and nominations too long to stipulate in detail. She has written and co-written hits for dance artist Winnie Khumalo, kwaito rapper Thebe, late R&B star TK and also worked with legends like Bongo Maffin and Oskido.
Never fails to disappoint
Zonke’s way to the top has not been quick and easy but she has made it and now finds herself as one of the country’s R&B A-listers. Trying to break into the music industry upon arrival in Johannesburg in the late ‘90s, the Port Elizabeth-raised Zonke had no idea what journey she was embarking on. “My father, Viva Dikana, was a musician and I’d always said I wanted to be an artist,” she says. Viva taught this superstar most of what she knows about music, from the theory of composition all the way through to being a successful business person in the industry. He is honoured in her classic track, “Viva the Legend” from her Ina Ethe album – which fans can look forward to seeing her perform next month.
Zonke recalls her teachers in high school being disappointed when she told them she would be pursuing a career in music. “But that just made me more determined to make a success of it,” she says. “To prove them wrong. I knew I was going to build a career in this industry, no matter how long it took me.”
Several years spent as a session vocalist alongside her step-mother, Anneline Malebo, who took Zonke under her wing, recording backup vocals, recording tracks for advertising jingles and just hanging around the studio, and then when they were needed, having to step into the booth and do the vocal in a few minutes, proved to be excellent training for Zonke. She became known as the 20-minute girl when it came to song composition and, to this day, she is still able to write some of her hit songs – from coming up with lyrics to composing a melody to laying down the vocal track – in less than half an hour.
Zonke’s first break came in 2003 when Joburg engineer Leon Erasmus asked her to record demo vocals on a cultural exchange project with German jazz-pop producer York. He liked what he heard and within weeks Zonke was fronting a group called Culture Clan, fusing electronic grooves with raps. They travelled to Germany to record two albums, which led to a Zonke solo album – Soulitary. Zonke found herself based in Germany for several years, recording and touring her Afro-European, electro-pop sound.
She then got homesick. “I wanted to be known in South Africa, and I craved that local sound, local audiences.” She returned home and the rest is history. Zonke has released numerous successful albums, is known wherever she is mentioned, sells out massive venues, is always on the nominees and winners’ lists of prestigious awards and never fails to disappoint.
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