She knows pain. She's still trying to get used to the fact that her older sister is gone and is using music as therapy.
It's been a couple of months since Zahara lost her sister, Nomonde Mkutukana in a tragic accident and she took some time out of the spotlight to deal with the grief.
Now she's back and ready to release new music.
Zahara, real name Bulelwa Mkutukana (32), has been writing songs right through the pandemic, she tells us.
She's releasing her latest single, Nyamezela on Friday, 7 May and her fifth studio album Nqaba Yam in June.
Her new body of work is dedicated to the hardships that she faced since losing her sister, Nomonde, seven years after her brother was gunned down in a gang rivalry crossfire.
“The song Nyamezela is about enduring the tough times, it is about me and the hardships brought by Covid-19. Our lives have changed because of it, it has affected our lives physically, spiritually and mentally. I was supposed to release the album in 2020 because I had been working on it from 2019, but coronavirus happened. But the album is inspired by my life and the things that have happened in the past year.
“I told myself that I am not going to give up, I'm going to keep on keeping on, despite of what happened. The song Nyamezela is for everyone, I really want us all to endure through the tough times.”
Zahara says that her music will still reflect her country upbringing and her distinctive guitar sound as it makes her who she is as an artist.
“I have grown in my sound, but I am not drifting away from my country sound, I found someone from Texas who plays guitar the way that I want. I want people to gain strength from this album, I want to inspire them and give them hope.”
Her album will explore themes of love, overcoming pain and being resilient.
Accepting the passing of her sister has been difficult, she tells us. But she feels her presence in her life and she contributed towards her latest album.
“She left some of herself in me. I was praying that I do not break down like I did when my brother passed away. In this album she already picked a song she like which is titled Sinda Mphefumlo and she used to play it over and over. I think could she sense it and we are hurt as a family and I still can’t believe that she is gone. I won’t be able to call her, she was a mother and a sister to me and the way she passed on does not make sense to me.”
Zahara’s album Nqaba Yam will be released in June.
She has also been working with the legendary Lebo M on a song that he will be releasing soon.
“I am working with Lebo M and we will go on tour together. We have a song together that will be on his album. But he will share the details soon."
She's learnt a lot in her time in the spotlight, she tells us.
“In my career I have learnt that I should not sign things that I do not understand, everyone knows my ups and downs in the industry. I now will always have lawyers involved before I sign a document or contract.”