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Berita:The girl who took her guitar to college

Award-winning musician Berita Khumalo never aspired to be a singer, she told Standardlife&style recently.

Report by Silence Charumbira

Born Gugulethu Khumalo 22 years ago in Bulawayo, the singer’s rise to stardom is rather unusual compared to other musicians.

Hers is a story of making the right decision at the right time and striking gold.

Singing in church as a young girl back in Midlands’ Zhombe, she never once thought she would have a career in the arts, until she turned 18.

“When I was younger I sang in the church choir, we even recorded a youth album. But I never contributed significantly as I never thought I had a big voice. It is only when I turned 18 that I bought a guitar and I started writing songs,” she said.

“In 2011 I got accepted to study at Walter Sisulu University, East London, South Africa and I remember fighting with my father as I refused to leave home without my guitar. At that point I realised I was serious about music, and I promised myself that I would make him proud, by showing him why I took my guitar with me.”

She said it was only after she started writing more songs and performing at schools, hospitals, community events and gatherings that her music career started.

The songstress, who is now often referred to as a Zimbabwe-born South African in some sections of the media, says she believes Zimbabwe has inspired many global artists in different ways.

“Zimbabwean music is very powerful, I am sure a lot of world artists have drawn inspiration not only from the music but our heritage as well. I believe our heritage fuels out art.”

She also opened up on one of the most misconstrued facts of her life like her name.

“I was born Gugulethu Khumalo, Berita is my mother’s name which I use to honour her with my music,” she said.

“I came to South Africa to study in East London at Walter Sisulu University after having moved to New Zealand at 16 with my mother, father and siblings.

“I was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and spent my childhood years in Zhombe (between Kwekwe and Gokwe) where my parents taught at a boarding school, Rio Tinto. I also spent a lot of good times in Nketa 6, Bulawayo at my grandmother’s house. Then when I was a teenager but moved with my family in search of greener pastures to New Zealand.

”I am at a stage where my career demands me to travel a lot, so unfortunately I am only able to come home when I am on holiday but I always find there is no place like home.”

A third year Financial Information Systems student Berita says she works very hard to balance between music and studies.

Winner of the 12th Metro Award for Best African album with her debut 12-track album Conquering Spirit Berita says her family is grateful about the support that she is getting.

“My mother and father have both given me full blessings. A music career is a very difficult path as it brings great joy and great pain at times, but they are by my side. They are so grateful about the support that I am receiving, and their only wish is that I continue to fulfil my destiny,” said.

She also spoke about her love of Zimbabwean music pointing out that one day she would want to contribute to local music.

“I am an urban grooves follower and lover but above all I give the uppermost respect Oliver Mtukudzi, the Charamba family and Bulawayo’s beloved Baba [Lovemore] Majaivana.  It is my wish to contribute to Zimbabwean music following their footsteps,” said Berita.

“I am the first born of five children four girls and a boy. I grew up in Zhombe where both my parents were proud high school teachers. Church was held at our home every Sunday and on holidays I stayed with my grandmother in Bulawayo. Father loved his cows and fields.”

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