Afro-pop singer, songwriter and guitarist, Gugulethu ‘Berita’ Khumalo, has won multiple awards and sold gold too. She never expected a career in music. So how did she get to where she is today? Media Update spoke to her to find out.
By Remy Raitt
Since breaking onto the scene in 2011, Berita was named Songwriter of the Year at the 2015 Wawela Music Awards, represented South Africa in the Netherlands in July 2015 at their Mandela Day celebrations and recently received a nomination at the inaugural South African Afro Music Awards in the Rising Star category.
When and how did you get into music?
Sadly I don't come from a musical family. I had sung in a church choir in my teens, but I never thought I would have a musical career. In 2010, I bought myself a guitar and learnt a few chords and wrote just one song. In 2011, I moved, with my guitar, to the Eastern Cape to study. Feeling even more inspired I learnt more chords and wrote most of my songs there. I got an opportunity to play in community events, in hospitals, schools and restaurants. By the end of the year, I had spent all my spare time out of my studies playing music and traveling for performances.
When did you crack the industry?
It was purely by chance. In 2011, I came to visit my uncle and his family on school holidays. Again, I brought along my guitar and would spend my afternoons playing. My uncle has a friend who is a DJ on Alex FM and he came to listen to me. After hearing me play, he organised a radio interview, on which I got to play live. The result was people calling the radio station marvelling at the sounds and requesting an album.
How would you describe your sound?
The harmonious meeting of simple yet intricate guitar melodies and a soulful voice.
You have already received great praise and awards. What does this mean to you?
I'm grateful that three years into my music I'm already getting recognition, but I'm hungry for more, I feel there is so much more music I have to deliver to the world.
You have an impressive Twitter following. Have you got any social media tips? How do you keep your followers engaged?
I like to share music on my social pages. I also share travel pictures, performance videos, artworks and other music links with my followers.
What is your opinion on the local music scene?
It's growing and always changing. There is a lot of talent and finally artists are seeing their careers as long term work and delivering to their audiences every single time.
Where is it thriving and where is it lacking?
There's a lot of music and amazing artists, however in a country with of over 50 million people the culture of buying music and attending artist shows is slow. Also, there is a lack of being open minded about music that comes from other countries unless it's coming from Nigeria or the States.
You are soon to release a single with heavyweights Oliver Mtukudzi and Hugh Masekela. What was it like working with them?
It is a huge honour to work with two of Africa's world class musicians, one of my wildest dreams has come true. They are both amazing souls, humble and young at heart. I enjoyed our studio sessions; we laughed a lot.
But most importantly I learnt from them to be selfless when writing, performing and working on my music. I got to understand that music is a spiritual purpose that’s bigger than me.
The remix for my new single Mwana Wa Mai will be released soon, we want the song to be heard on all possible platforms. Then the music video will follow.
What’s your advice be for those trying to crack the industry?
Keep singing, writing and believing. It takes one song and one chance but a whole lot of preparation.
Anything else you would like to share?
I would like to thank all my followers and fans for loving and inspiring me to keep going. I am nothing without their continuous love and support.
For more information, connect with Berita on Facebook or on Twitter.