YVONNE Chaka Chaka, dubbed the Princess of Africa, has been mesmerising audiences across the world with her music. However, this Soweto-born star is still not dazzled by fame after more than three decades in showbiz.
BEING A TOMBOY
This world-renowned star grew up in the township. The last born of three girls, Yvonne admits she was a handful when she was growing up. She says she was the toughest one amongst her sisters and she felt the need to protect them. But the biggest protector in her family was her mother. “I was a tomboy and would fight with boys. I only had a few female friends and I was naughty,” she says. This is quite a surprise considering that the songstress is always dressed up in chic African-print dresses and wearing perfect make-up.
HER RISE TO FAME
She had accompanied someone to an audition at a recording company when music producer, Phil Hollis, invited her to audition as well. She sang for a group of people in the boardroom and they liked the performance. “They gave me R20 and told me to come back on Monday. I was instructed to listen to the instrumentals of I’m In Love With A DJ,” she recalls. When she went back on Monday, she was asked to sing the song and that was the beginning of her music career. Because there were very few big black artists then, she thought to herself this would be a temporary thing but the song did extremely well. “My mother was not happy that I was getting into showbiz even though she signed contracts for me because I was still 19 years old,” she says.
THE BIRTH OF A PRINCESS
Many people don’t know that her surname is actually Machaka but because Phil wanted her name to go with the pop sound, she ended up being Yvonne Chaka Chaka. She also earned herself the title of “Princess of Africa” during one of her shows in Uganda. She had to perform in front of 5 000 people and some were holding placards saying that she was a princess. “I became so emotional and cried,” she says. She attributes her success to God. “God has been very good to me,” she says, adding that she's also grateful for the support she gets from her kids and husband, Dr Mandlalele “Tiny” Mhinga. “Tiny has always been my pillar of strength. We complete each other,” she says. Even with that support, she says being a parent is not easy. “There’s just no recipe for it. Being a mom is not easy but it’s worth it,” she admits.