Celebrated vocalist Sibongile Khumalo praised as an icon of jazz, and classics

Through her music, she reflected the richness of her culture, wisdom, and her continent


By Edward Tsumele


Internationally acclaimed South African Jazz vocalist and arts leader Sibongile Khumalo the country has lost not just a singer but an influential cultural figure in the music industry and the country.

While she had carved a successful music career in the jazz genre for more than 30 rears through her numerous performances and recordings, Khumalo was however a classically trained musician who was at ease as an opera singer – just as she was in jazz.

A hugely spiritual person – Khumalo besides being a recording artist and performer – has also over the years performed the role of leader in the industry – who at some stage in her long career, was also a chairperson of the South African Music Rights Organisation.

Khumalo died this week from complications related to stroke. She had been ill for some time as a result of the stroke,” according to a statement released by her publicist JT Communications.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr Sibongile Khumalo our iconic, world-celebrated South African singer, affectionately known as Ma’Mngoma (24 September 1957 – 28 January 2021).

“Through her music, she has always reflected the richness of her culture, wisdom, and warmth of her family, her community, and her continent.

She will be missed by all who had the privilege of experiencing her music, her friendship and her love. The family is grateful for the support and prayers during this time,” the statement stated.

Khumalo was a world-renowned jazz and opera vocalist with a career spanning over 30 years.

Born in Soweto from a musical dynasty, Khumalo was the daughter of Grace and Professor Khabi Mngoma the late an academic and a musical expert who gave dignity to particularly black music through his academic work and research as a professor of music at the University of Zululand during apartheid.

Khumalo – who for her musical prowess and exploits was honoured by Rhodes University, conferring her an honorary doctorate in her life time, began her musical journey at the tender age of eight, and was launched into the limelight when she won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award at the Grahamstown Arts Festival in 1993.

Her illustrious career saw her release several critically acclaimed and award winning albums and graced a variety of prestigious events both locally and internationally.

The First Lady of Song as termed by Nelson Mandela was a celebrated and multi-award winning musician. Throughout her career she was awarded many accolades including The Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) bestowed on her by President Thabo Mbeki. – City Life Arts



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