‘I am leaving everything I know behind for this dream’ - Elaine on her big move

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Singer Elaine performing for an intimate audience at the launch of her new single, Right Now at Alice & Fifth in Sandton.
Singer Elaine performing for an intimate audience at the launch of her new single, Right Now at Alice & Fifth in Sandton.
Oupa Bopape

It wasn't that long ago that she was just a Wits University law student juggling her academics who had a dream of becoming an RnB singer.

She would hold meetings at a McDonald’s in Johannesburg and now she's an international star. 

Her rise in the industry might sound like something from a fairytale book but it is not. She's worked hard for it. 

Ndivhuwo Mukheli, famously known as Elaine (22), tells Drum that her six-year-old self would not let her wish the dream away no matter what.

It had to come true. 

Today, she is signed to American record label, Columbia Records which records the likes of Beyonce and Adele.

“It is something I struggle to process. But more than anything am humbled,” the You’re The One singer tells us.

When she released her first EP Elements in 2019, she had about 700 followers on Twitter and maybe 2000 on Instagram, she tells us. These numbers sky-rocketed after she dropped her music. The song You're The One has gone 7x platinum since its release. 

But it was never about the following. Her love for music has always been deeper than that.

“My music is a true representation of who I am. It is passionate, honest and sensual. I never want to pretend to be someone else because that will catch-up with you,” she says.

"In South Africa, there are a lot of genres that get introduced and all have to do is say a fire hook and fire lines, ‘ay yebo! ay yebo!’. But that is not who I am,” she jokes.

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Elaine will be moving to America soon, she has been going back and forth but will soon be moving permanently.

“It is a big step. I am leaving everything and everyone that I know behind for this dream. But I am like if it can go this far, surely it can go a bit further. I am willing to take the leap of faith,” the singer says.

Before jetting off to the world, Elaine launched her new single titled Right Now from the album that's still to be released.

“I am savouring the moment and that is why this is such a special moment for me because I don’t know when I am going to be back,” the Pretoria artist says.

The dream has gotten bigger and so has the confidence. She had some moments of doubts in the journey.

“It took me so long to say to myself, you are that girl! Saying this is reassuring.”

Elaine says her mom has always told her that her confidence is not only for her but for others too. “I can’t afford to have insecure women around me. Me being confident is the responsible thing to do,” she says.  

"If you believe you are that girl, who are we to say that you are not?"

“I was that girl until I wasn’t. I was dreaming, feeling like when is it going to be my turn and how is this going to happen for me. That is the thing about life, it changes. If you believe you are that girl, who are we to say that you are not?”

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Elaine says she gets goosebumps when she thinks of the likes of Brenda Fassie, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Lebo Mathosa.

“I think of impact and I think of passion. Their talent and music has been ground-breaking and it changed the world. That is the footprint I want to leave. And I would like to have the same impact on people,” she says.

While she's been a hit, there have been times where she has not always received kindness from others.

“The kind things people say to me keep me going. It can get ugly, so the kind and genuine things people say go a long way. I go the extra mile to be kind to people because I did not know how much I needed kindness until I broke out to the world. It was rough at times,” she adds.

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