From 'Huku' to 'John Cena': Tracking Sho Madjozi's path to viral stardom

Sho Madjozi (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Sho Madjozi (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

Cape Town – South Africa has been waiting for a talent like Sho Madjozi.

The Limpopo born star is self-confident, hardworking and uniquely South African.

It's no surprise that she has garnered international attention for her song, John Cena but that meteoric rise in popularity doesn't make her an overnight sensation.

Instead, the success proves that dedication to your craft is noticed, and rewarded with praise.

Let's take a closer look at how Sho Madjozi reached viral stardom:


Sho Madjozi was born Maya Christinah Xichavo Wegerif on 9 May, 1992 in Limpopo to a South African mother and Swedish father, according to an interview in The Fader.

After graduating high school in Tanzania, Sho went on to receive an African Studies and Creative Writing degree from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. About her time overseas the academic told the music publication: "There was this sense of South Africa being quite isolated [from] the rest of the continent, and [I saw] myself more as an African than just a South African".

Upon returning to SA, although her first passion was poetry, the musician began writing for other artists to survive financially.

In 2017 she released Dumi Hi Phone which featured duo PS DJz and garnered her attention in her own right.


On 9 March 2018, she released the lead single Huku from her critically acclaimed debut album Limpopo Champions League and everything took off.

The song reached radio stations and clubs all over the country with many obsessing over just want the catchy hook meant.

According to Twitter user Marc Wegerif (the same name as the songwriter's father) it's actually simple: "hukuniambia kwamba wewe nanipenda" = "you didn't tell me that you loved me". Perhaps @ShoMadjozi is also playing on Tsonga meaning of huku = chicken as the guy was scared (chicken) to tell her."

Regardless of the meaning, Huku has amassed over 5 million views on YouTube and definitely announced the star's arrival in a big way. 



Then in August of the same year Sho appeared alongside Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin in a video for the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, where she would also perform.

Then on 2 December, 2018, the local artist performed at the festival with a large worldwide audience and caught the internet's attention with her super energetic set.

That performance set the scene perfectly for the release of her debut album just weeks later.



Limpopo Champions League, Sho's debut studio album was released on 14 December, 2018 to much critical acclaim, radio play and adoration. Awards then followed on mass.

2019 AWARDS (so far)

At this year's South African Music Awards (Samas) which were held on 1 June, 2019, the 27-year-old earned two wins.

The awards were for Newcomer of the Year and for Best Female Album. She also received nominees for categories: Best Music Video for Huku and for Best Kwaito, Gqom & AmaPiano Album for Limpopo Champions League.

On 23 June, Sho received a BET Award for Best New International Act at the BET Awards.


In August of the same year John Cena – on which Sho mostly raps in Swahili – was featured on the YouTube COLORS page that spotlights new artists from around the world, and garnered her the most significant reaction yet. 


While speaking to The Juice's Nikita Coetzee the songwriter said: "I don't think a lot of people noticed this, but I really make a lot of heartbreak Gqom."

She then explained that John Cena is about "this boy who doesn't see me" so, "maybe I'm John Cena." 

In a month the video of her performance scored over 3 million YouTube views, and in September, Sho independently released the song with distribution from Africori. 


John Cena himself approves of the song that carries his name. 

He walked out to the song at a match and danced to it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in September. We can't wait to see what Sho Madjozi does next! 

Compiled by Alex Isaacs. (Sources: The Juice, Channel24, IOL, The Fader, Billboard Magazine)

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