Nomcebo Nothule Zikode: From South African Songstress to International Sensation

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Born in Hammarsdale in 1985, Nomcebo Nothule Zikode has soared to great heights as a singer and songwriter hailing from South Africa. Her journey is one of passion, dedication, and undeniable talent.

Zikode's educational path took her through Ukusa High School, where she successfully matriculated. Eager to broaden her horizons, she then enrolled at Havatech College, where she pursued and obtained a degree in information technology.

However, her true calling lay in the world of music. Determined to follow her dreams, Zikode left her hometown and ventured into the world of singing. Initially, she found her place as a backing singer, honing her skills and gaining invaluable experience. It was during this time that she collaborated with DJ Ganyani on the sensational hit single "Emazulwini" in 2018, solidifying her presence in the industry.

The turning point in Zikode's career came when she signed a record deal with Open Mic Production. This pivotal moment led to her co-writing and being featured on Master KG's monumental single "Jerusalema" in 2019. The song became an international sensation, reaching the pinnacle of success by topping the Billboard Music charts and Apple Music charts.

Building on this incredible momentum, Zikode released her debut album "Xola Moya Wam" in 2020, which showcased her immense talent and garnered widespread acclaim. The album boasted two exceptional singles, "Xola Moya Wam" and "Bayabuza," further solidifying her position as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.

Beyond her musical accomplishments, Zikode finds joy and fulfillment in her personal life. She is married to Selwyn Fraser and together they are blessed with two children, creating a harmonious balance between her career and family.

While Zikode's star continues to rise, she embarked on an unforgettable journey to Greece a few months ago, where she captivated audiences at the Fashion TV Anniversary event in Athens. Enchanted by the country's beauty and the warmth of its people, Zikode expressed her admiration for Greece, cementing her status as a truly global artist.

With her captivating voice, exceptional songwriting skills, and unwavering determination, Nomcebo Nothule Zikode has become an emblem of South African talent, captivating hearts worldwide with her melodious creations.

Greek City Times catches up with Zikode to learn more.

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Please take us back to your childhood years and try to remember when you first started singing.

 I can't really remember the age, but I was very young maybe around five to seven. I was already singing not professionally but I remember around the ages of 12 to 15, I was also singing at home in our yard and the neighbours would be like "Hey, you are making a noise, you know, keep it down." And I would keep it down for a few seconds, but after that, I would go back on again and scream and sing. So, I used to make a lot of noise, not because maybe I was disrespectful to my neighbours but it was just because of my love for music. So, I was a happy child. I used to play a lot.

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What is music to you?

I can say music is my life. Really, music is my life. Even though I've tried to do other things, I really, really noticed or understood that I'm all about music. I can't really be able to do anything else. As much as I member, I tried to do something else, but music will be there in my life forever. Thus, I breathe music and gives me life. Music is my life. That's all I can say.

Its commonly known that music has changed throughout the years, but does it still convey the right message to inspire people, especially the new generation, to excel in life?

What a difficult question to answer. I think it depends on what you really love to do because if you love good music with a good message of course you are going to search for it, and find it, because there's only bad music. So, you can search for music that will inspire you, if you are that type of person who wants something to be inspired by you look for a good music. So, I can say, it's fifty-fifty. There are still people like myself who still believe in good music, music with a good message.

Do you request the songwriters and composers to create music and lyrics with a sense of African identity in their scores?

Honestly, I've never done that before. When it comes to writing music, I normally write my own music. Maybe one day, I will get someone to write my lyrics or melodies. But so far, I've done my music. I'm the one who creates music. And when it comes to instruments, I really don't instruct the musicians so much. I just love when someone is doing something from the heart. So, that's something I can say to someone who wants to do beats for me, to say “Please write something from the heart, something that is more soul-given”.

What are some of the basic challenges that artists face in order to become internationally known and has the music industry developed the right standards to support and promote them in your country?

I can say it is difficult. It's not easy for South Africans to go abroad. But as for me, I think “Jerusalema’ opens doors for me as well as other artists in South Africa because someone after listening to “Jerusalema” they will be curious to listen to other artists from South Africa. So, I think the song creates a ripple effect in a way that people want to learn more from our country. But I still feel that's not enough. We still need our music to be played in other countries like America, the way they play Rihanna, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Chris Barney and many more on their radio stations. Maybe the language barrier is an obstacle. I don't know, but because “Jerusalema” has managed to cross over, I still have a hope that with other songs as well, or other artists in South Africa are still going to be able to manage to cross over.

South African artists are extremely talented. No doubt about that. We've got amazing singers here, amazing performers. I also think that maybe we still lack when it comes to marketing. So we still need a marketing strategy that can be able to take us to where we want to. Because I strongly believe that it doesn't matter whether I sing in my own language and you don't understand it, it doesn't matter. Music is an international language. So people can always relate to amazing music. And I believe that South Africa has got an amazing talent. And we are at a level where other countries can listen to our music or can enjoy our music, can dance to our music.

What are some of your favourite collaborations ?

There's a song I did. It's actually the first song that I did and it became a success. Of course not like “Jerusalema” but it became a big success in South Africa as well as neighbouring countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zanzibar. This song is called "Emazulwini" an amazing song. Even today, I still sing the song. I remember I was coming from being a backing singer to my first record. I was very nervous. I didn't know whether the people that I was doing the music with are going to love it, or the emotions that I was putting into the song are obvious and real to the listeners. There was a guy in the studio who told me I've got a great voice. I was so happy that there was this guy, DJ Ganyani, that I was doing the collaboration. He was amazing at least he understood where I was coming from because for me it was coming from the heart.

You have recently set up the Nomcebo Zikode Foundation. What’s your vision and the mission of the foundation?

We've set up the Foundation and have already started visiting schools and giving away free uniforms to the kids. My wish is to see these kids going to school happy because I know if they go to school happy, they can be able to achieve the result that they can be proud of, or their parents can be proud of them because I know exactly how it feels like going to school with an empty stomach or without shoes. And I know exactly that maybe other kids at school wouldn't play with you just because you don't have a proper uniform. But I do this because all I want to achieve is for these kids to have some dignity in their lives. You know, I want to give them dignity so that no one will ever notice from school, that they come from a poor family and maybe look down on them or maybe also even they become lazy to go to school just because they don’t look good and look different from other kids. So, my wish is to see a future president coming out from these kids because I believe in some of these kids.

If we try to found such organisations to meet them halfway, I know that this is not something that is helping them 100%, but we make the first step to something bigger. We can have the doctors of tomorrow, we can have the president of tomorrow. My wish is for the kids to learn computers or something that will actually help them with their schoolwork, just to upgrade them, to take them out from the streets. Because also in South Africa, we've got a problem with young kids taking drugs. We want to open a centre to keep them busy to do something else instead of harmful habits.

We can teach them music as well, whether you play the guitar or they have other dexterities. We really need to create heroes in our country. Instead of just sitting and watching, waiting for the government to do things for us, we can do things for ourselves. I hope the young generation comprehends the harmful effects drugs have on it and refrain by becoming more creative.

If we take drugs, there will be no future for us. There will be no heroes for us.

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How does it feel to be the second South African woman to receive a Grammy Award after Miriam Makeba?

Yeah, I'm over the moon. I'm excited about it and I'm feeling so grateful. I'm really grateful to God for giving me this opportunity. And I believe that the young ones who are coming after me will learn something from this, that it is possible, it doesn't matter where you come from. You can make it in life. You can reach your goal as big as it is. So never ever stop dreaming big. Young artists must continue dreaming big. They must continue respecting their craft. Or maybe they must continue loving their craft and working on their craft to become what they believe in. It can really travel the world and reach places that they've never thought of. I never thought that one day I will have a Grammy and also be the second one, as a woman in South Africa, to receive this Grammy.

Have you realised some of your dreams and what future plans are you focusing on?

Oh yes, I have achieved one of my dreams - actually let me not say one of my dreams - my dream was to become a musician. And here I am today, a musician that is not only known in South Africa but worldwide. So I'm grateful for that. This is really something that I wanted and today I'm living my dream. 

I think what I want to focus on now is to open the centre that I was telling you about previously whereby we'll have these kids after school, and they can come and learn how to play instruments - whether a guitar or a keyboard or drums to make sure that we are taking them away from the drugs or things that may ruin their future and also give food to those who maybe don't have enough food at home. That's my wish and also to release more music. 

How important is family to you and what role does it play in your decision-making process?

Family is very important to me. I can’t think of living without my family. These are the people that manage to lift me up when my spirit is down. So, it's really important to have a happy family, and I believe that I have a happy family. I know I travel a lot but whenever I get time, I spend it with my family. Sometimes we go out together, we laugh together, we tell jokes together. And they are very supportive when it comes to my decision or maybe when it comes to my career. They trust me, they believe in me. They can advise me if I make the wrong decision.

I will tell you one story, just a short story. I remember there was a time whereby I was on Facebook Live and I was with my son, whose name is Noto. And before we can even start the live, we were just liking the follower’s greetings. He was busy saying, please support my mom, support my mom. I have a perfume called “Duchess” available at Jet Stores in South Africa. So, when we're doing this live, he's actually the one who put the perfume in front of us taking a video of it. So, there he was, busy telling people about my perfume.

My family believe in me as much as I believe in them.

I would like to thank you so much for having me on Greek City Times.

Read also Nikos Oikonomopoulos: A Musical Journey Fuelled by Faith and Dedication


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