Born koBulawayo in Zimbabwe, multi-award winning, platinum-selling singer-songwriter and music producer – BERITA, takes us through her musical journey which is influenced by powerful female musicians such as Jill Scott, Corrine Bailey Rae, Asa, Lira, Zonke and Thandiswa Mazwai, amongst many. The recent SAMA Award winner, is the founder of Women of Music Business abbreviated THE WOMB a pan-African women empowerment non-profit organisation and seats on the board of RISA the Recording Industry of South Africa. Berita has graced live stages in East and Southern Africa including the Bayimba International Festival (Uganda), Lake of Stars Festival (Malawi), Jacaranda Music Festival (Zimbabwe) and Cape Town International Jazz festival (South Africa)
As a child, Berita recollects spending time in her grandmothers’ garden, listening and singing along to songs on the radio. At an early age, she was introduced to a vast type of music of the late Oliver Mtukudzi, Lovemore Majaivana, the late Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Mafikizolo. Sonically, Berita’s music is an authentic blend of soul music borrowing elements from Afro-Jazz, contemporary pop influences as well as South African dance music. Her music is the soundtrack of life, her lyrical content is substantial from love lost to love found. Berita is a master communicator for the heart and soul.
We were introduced to Berita in 2012 through her now-classic debut single, Thandolwethu which gained traction on radio and was later remixed by multi-award-winning musician and producer -Oskido. It was when she was in her second year, studying Financial Information System at the Walter Sisulu University that she released her debut album – Conquering Spirit.
“I released my album and went back to class. Slowly Thandolwethu the leading single gained traction on radio and around that time I was very fortunate to meet Oskido who remixed the song and introduced me to the rest of South Africa. I later learnt the importance of a hit in our industry and I am very fortunate to have had my first one from my initial introduction to the music scene.”
Berita has gone on to release four studio albums to critical and commercial acclaim. Preceded by the much loved 2019 single ‘Ndicel’ikiss’, Berita began 2020 with her chart-topping SAMA award-winning album “Songs in The Key of Love''. The album's lead single ‘Jikizinto’ peaked at number 1 on the Radio Monitor charts making Berita the first Solo female and independent artist to have a number 1 record in the new decade. Her previous music release 'Ungandibulali' in collaboration with Ndlovu Youth Choir was the theme song during the 2020s 16 Days of activism period as part of SABC's 'Do Not Turn A Blind Eye' campaign against GBV.
Talking about how the previous albums have contributed to her SAMA winning album, Berita highlights that every album has been a journey and a step forward to her dreams. She elaborates on how her self-titled 3rd studio album – BERITA, taught her a lot about music production and collaboration.
“When I was making my 4TH studio album – Songs in The Key of Love, I was able to take full ownership of the project due to all the lessons from the previous projects. The journey to the album began with the independent production and release of Ndicel’ikiss which I co-wrote and co-produced in January 2019 and released in February 2019 to great success. Ndicel’ikiss went on to become a top 40 radio song on South African radio and a sing-along at many music concerts and festivals. In January 2020, I put together a key team with whom I travelled to Cape Town for an album working retreat. Little did I know that soon after the album release in February the world would go into a lockdown.”
9 years later of having done outstanding collaborations with the late Oliver Mtukudzi, music legend Oskido, the late Hugh Masekela, Amanda Black, dance mavericks Mobi Dixon and Da Capo, Berita wins a South African Music Award in the Rest of Africa category, running against African giants such as Wizkid, Davido, Sauti Sol and Buffalo Souljah.
“I am grateful for the award. I was home glued to my phone watching the awards on SABC 1 like everybody else. When they called my category, I closed my eyes and heard my name. It was a victorious moment”
Berita says that the music industry has been her greatest teacher, giving her internal and external lessons on a daily basis. She has learnt to have more faith, self-belief and courage through writing and singing her own songs. Above all, she has learnt entrepreneurship and tenacity from being an owner of her own independent record label – Assali Music. As an extension of her music, Berita is adored for her down to earth personality, her classy, authentic and proudly African sense of style. On and off stage she pairs her signature African print headwraps or natural hairstyles with African designer outfits. Over the past years, Berita’s fashion style has blossomed much to frequent collaborations with contemporary South African fashion designers such as Athenkosi ZA, Khosi Nkosi, Rich Factory, Levi’s Haus Africa, Mmuso Maxwell, Imprint, Scalo and Kisua.
Outside of her demanding schedule as an artist and being a music executive, Berita is the Founder of The Women in the music Business, an NGO whose purpose is to empower female creators and entrepreneurs in the music industry across Africa. In the past 12 months, the organisation has empowered over 60 women on the continent. She collaborates with The Sony Music Global Fund, The Southern Africa Trust and The Centre on African Philanthropy and Social Investment at The WITS Business school.
“I always tell younger people to believe in themselves, it is very important to stay true and grounded in who you are. I am a spiritual being first and foremost I find that this understanding has helped me overcome challenges and difficult times”
Written by: Gilmore Tee
Photography: Franco Mbonie
Makeup: Cleopatra Mainga
Hair: Azania Hair Botique
Styling: Eric by Design