Nomcebo Zikode reveals she was ready to give up on life before 'Jerusalema'

The songbird was depressed and on the edge of quitting her music career before the hit tune sparked an international dance craze

25 September 2020 - 11:50
By Emmanuel Tjiya
'Jerusalema' singer Nomcebo Zikode dropped her first solo album, 'Xola Moya Wam', in August.
Image: Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan 'Jerusalema' singer Nomcebo Zikode dropped her first solo album, 'Xola Moya Wam', in August.

Nomcebo Zikode was ready to give up on music and the life she built with her family before Master KG offered her a lifeline with their smash hit Jerusalema.

The 34-year-old married mother of two has been in the music industry for 15 years as a backup singer for Zahara, Nhlanhla Nciza, Deborah Fraser and Lundi Tyamara.

For years she wanted her own music career and had reached her limit last year before Master KG asked her to feature on the song that has sparked an international dance craze and found favour with A-listers ranging from soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who urged Mzansi to take part in the Jerusalema dance challenge on Heritage Day.

When Nomcebo reveals the story of how the song saved her life, she can't help but break into tears.

“This is a dream come true because I have wanted this all my life. I remember just before Jerusalema I was frustrated that things were not happening for me and I was praying a lot,” she says.

“Music is like a calling to me, so I felt like something was burning inside of me and I needed it out.

“I was in this place where I was stuck in this funk of sleeping and waking up, but there was nothing happening for me. I was so depressed that I felt like I was close to taking my own life.”

I was so depressed that I felt like I was close to taking my own life
Singer Nomcebo Zikode

Nomcebo also recently provided vocals for DJ Ganyani's Emazulwini and Bongo Beat by Imizamo Yami. She channelled all that darkness into her art, and the end result has been the catchy lyrics for Jerusalema.

“Master KG played the beat three or four times and the words that came to mind were 'Jerusalema, ikhaya lami' [Jerusalem is my home]," she recounts.

“At the time I felt like my purpose was not on this earth and God need to take me to Jerusalem, where I can find peace and happiness, like others.”

Now she is the most sought-after songbird in the music industry. Her dream of dropping a solo album came true when she released her five-track offering, Xola Moya Wam, in August.

Nomcebo and Master KG have been appointed by sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa as arts and culture's official ambassadors to the world.

“The album was inspired by the fact that when the Covid-19 lockdown hit, I got scared. I thought God was punishing me because I have such a big song [Jerusalema] and I should be outside singing and making money,” Nomcebo says.

“I thought God was punishing me for choosing Him over money. So, the mood of the album is about me trying to fulfil my purpose, but it's not easy.”

• This article is adapted from one originally published on SowetanLIVE. Read the original here.