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27 August 2015

5 Women Artists That Changed the Sound of South Africa (Part 4) – Yvonne Chaka Chaka

Yvonne Chaka Chaka is a South African superstar and legendary singer, performing artist, entrepreneur, humanitarian and teacher. Known as the “Princess of Africa”, Yvonne is an internationally recognised, highly respected and remarkable African success story.

Born in Dobsonville, Soweto, 1965, daughter of Puti and Sophie Machaka, Yvonne Ntombizodwa Moloko Machaka was one of three sisters.

From an early age her sisters Refiloe and Doreen encouraged her to sing. As a young performer at the age of 16 in 1981, Yvonne was one of the first black children on South African television when she appeared on a talent-search show called “Sugar Shack”.

Introduced to Attie Van Wyk and Phil Hollis of Dephon Records in 1984, the three cut a disco fuelled album, “I’m in Love With a DJ”, which was released in 1985.

Her debut album sold 35,000 copies, and with tracks like “I’m Burning Up”, “I Cry for Freedom”, “Sangoma”, “Motherland” and “Umqombothi” Chaka Chaka’s star status on South Africa’s mbaqanga music scene was ensured.

Her meteoric rise included hit after hit as her subsequent award winning albums include “Thank You Mr DJ” (1987), “Sangoma” (1987), “I’m Burning Up” (1988), “Who’s The Boss” (1989), “Motherland” (1989), ” Be Proud to be African”( 1990), “Back on my Feet”(1997), “Rhythm of Life” (1991), “Who’s got the Power”, “Bombani” (Tiko Rahina) (1997), “Power of Afrika”(1996), “Yvonne and Friends” (2000) and “Kwenzenjani” (2002).

In 1989, Chaka Chaka married Soweto surgeon, Dr Mandlalele ‘Tiny’ Mhinga and the couple has four children, all boys.

For almost 30 years her inimitable and distinctive alto voice graced audiences across the world from township slums to heads of state such as Nelson Mandela and U.S. President Bill Clinton, and royalty such as Queen Elizabeth.

Woven into her words and musical beats that vary from afro-traditional to a world sound, Yvonne’s personal message promotes clear social and spiritual advice to her fans in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Gabon, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and around the world.

At a young age, Yvonne realised her gift for fighting inequality and injustice. Her hit songs such as “I Cry for Freedom” and “Motherland” were vocal in their opposition to apartheid. Nelson Mandela wrote to Yvonne from prison describing how her music sustained him, and credits her with a vital role in ending apartheid.

Considered a role model throughout the African continent, she has demonstrated compassion for others throughout her career. Even after the end of apartheid, her advocacy and humanitarianism has continued to grow.

She teaches literacy, promotes the rights of women and protects orphans and vulnerable children everywhere.

Yvonne is a champion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the United Nations MDG Envoy for Africa, and the Goodwill Ambassador for the Roll Back Malaria Partnership.

In 2006, Chaka Chaka founded her own charity called The Princess of Africa Foundation, which works closely with the ACTION global health advocacy partnership.

Recently, she launched a documentary film, “A Motherland Tour — A Journey of African Women”, which was filmed throughout Africa over five years. A world tour followed to promote the grassroots successes of those engaged in the battle against HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, supported by the Global Fund.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s honours and awards read like a shopping list and some of the most prestigious include:

She serves as Ambassador for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Campaign which raises global awareness of HIV/AIDS. She has also been ambassador to the University of South Africa (UNISA), City of Johannesburg Tourism, and South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province Tourism.

Yvonne was named one of the Top 100 Heroes of South Africa by the Star Newspaper In 2001, she was the recipient of the Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship Award and the first black woman to be awarded a Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum.

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