Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

Iconic SA singer Sibongile Khumalo dies at 63

Sibongile Khumalo was regarded as one of the greatest of our time.

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January isn’t a good month. No, not at all. We said goodbye to Jonas Gwangwa less than a week ago (incidentally, also the same day which claimed Oliver Mtukudzi in 2019 and Hugh Masekela in 2018. Now, we’re saying goodbye to Sibongile Khumalo.

Eyewitness News confirmed that the legendary jazz and opera musician passed away early Thursday morning, 28 January 2021 at the age of 63. The cause of death was not revealed.

Sibongile Khumalo legacy

The internationally acclaimed was born in Orlando West, Soweto in 1957. Khumalo was regarded as one of the greatest of our time, with her singing talents ranging from opera and jazz to choral music and musical theatre

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Sibongile Khumalo sings with the American Jack Dejohnette Trio at the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival on 31 March 2007. Photo: AFP/RODGER BOSCH

Khumalo rose to fame in 1993 when she won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award at the Grahamstown Arts Festival. She collected awards and acknowledgements throughout her career, the most prestigious being the Silver Order of Ikhamanga in 2008.

The internationally revered artist – who was born in Orlando West in Soweto in 1957 – has been lauded as one of the great singing talents of her time, and has inspired the creation of new music by South African composers, both in the classical, opera as well as jazz genres.

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Sibongile Khumalo and Hugh Masekela perform on 4 April 2014 in New York. Photo: AFP/Dave Kotinsky

Apart from prestigious appearance such as performing for late President Nelson Mandela on his 75th birthday or singing the South African and New Zealand national anthems during the World Cup Rugby Final in 1995 and lending her voice to the 1994 inauguration, Khumalo also enchanted audiences the world over.

Khumalo performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra twice in the early nineties, as well sang Handel’s Messiah with Lord Yehudi Menuhin in 1995. Three years prior she won over audiences with her performances of “The 3 Faces of Sibongile Khumalo”

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Violinist Vanessa Mae and Sibongile Khumalo perform together at the gala opening of the Cape Town International Convention Centre on28 June 2003. Photo: AFP/STRINGER

The singer, who once said white Carnations are her favourite flowers, was just as comfortable with performing via live stream during the COVID-19 pandemic as she was singing on a stage in front of thousands.

Khumalo loved making music and loved celebrating life in equal measure.

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