In 1996 a teenager took a bus from KwaZakhele in the Eastern Cape to the City of Gold to chase her musical dreams.
Her career as an Afro-soul and R&B singer only took off three years later, in 1999, when she wrote a song titled Africa, My Motherland for the Germany-based band Jazzkantine.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Now, 20 years later, Zonke Dikana (39) marks two successful decades in the industry. She will be celebrating this milestone by paying homage to her fans at an intimate concert at the Carnival City Casino on June 15.
The talented muso has more reasons to celebrate, as she is also one of the four artists with the most nominations at the South African Music Awards (Samas) on Thursday night at the Alberton Civic Theatre.
Dikana bagged four: Album of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Best R&B/Soul Album and Best Produced Album for L.O.V.E.
“It has been a beautiful 20 years. I am honoured to be nominated in four categories, it shows that the music industry recognises my hard work on L.O.V.E,” said the soul queen.
Dikana said she was going to celebrate her 20-year anniversary with the same number of songs.
“I will be performing 20 songs with a live band. This is something I have dreamt of for many years. I’m really looking forward to this evening, simply to share with my friends the one thing that serves as my refuge. I hope to connect with everyone, to sing, dance, celebrate and embrace our African culture and love.”
In October, Dikana was announced as the ambassador for Mandela Legacy Foundation. “The biggest thing that has ever happened to my music career was donating my song, Viva The Legend, to the foundation so that the royalties from it can help towards those who are less fortunate,” she said.
Another female artist deserving a big thumbs up is Sho Madjozi (real name Maya Christinah Xichavo Wegerif), who received four nominations: Female Artist of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Best Kwaito/ Gqom/ Amapiano Album for Limpopo Champions League and Music Video of the Year for Huku.
An excited Madjozi said: “I heard news of my first nomination when I was on my way here. I actually cried. You just don’t know what recognition you’re gonna get, especially when you are an independent artist. You can get discouraged,” she said.
At times she wanted to give up because she felt the industry was letting her down and she was not getting the recognition she deserved. “Sometimes you do your best by setting trends because you want to stand out.”
The 26-year-old said she owed her success to her fans. “There is no record label that paid anybody money for my nominations – it’s pure love from fans that got me here.”
The Sama nominations were led by the internationally acclaimed DJ Black Coffee, Nathi Maphumulo, who got five nominations: Male Artist of the Year, Collaboration of the Year (two songs), Best Dance Album and Album of the Year.
Rapper Sjava scored four nominations for Album of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Best Afro Pop Album and Best Engineer.
The #Sama25 hosts were TV personality Dosto Noge and child star Hulisani Ravele. Splendid performances from legendary Steve Kekana, Skwatta Kamp, Joe Nina, Mshoza, Mzambiya, Moonchild and others set the house on fire.