Our Icon for the month of November is Rebecca Malope. In 1990 Rebecca won the OKTV Award of Best South African female artist. In 1993 it is estimated that more than one million listeners voted for her as Best Local Established Artist in the Coca Cola Full Blast Music Award Music Show.
She won this in 1993 and 1994. With respect to sales, all of her first ten gospel albums went gold and the last six were platinum. Malope has sold more than two million copies of her recordings. In 1995 her CD Shwele Baba sold more than 1 million copies in the three weeks after its release, becoming the fastest selling CD in the South African music history.
In 1996 she lost her father, brother and sister in tragic circumstances. This did not stop her from producing music, which she believes is her divine vocation. Between 1995 and 2004 Rebecca and her backing group Pure Magic toured in Europe, Middle East (in particular Israel), America and Africa. While traveling in Israel in 1995 she shot a 52-minute Easter special for national broadcast on Good Friday. She then contracted to sing the National Anthem at the Double World Boxing Title fight, televised live in 30 countries worldwide.
Latterly she has had her share of setbacks and achievements. In 2001 another gospel musician claimed that Malope saw him as a rival and had hired people to kill him, despite having been of support to him in his development. That year Malope also performed live in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2003 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Natal for her contribution to music and also lost her mother to illness. In December of that year she won the Kora Award for Best Gospel Singer.
Rebecca has performed at many music festivals across the country, becoming known as the ‘Queen of Gospel’, and continues to inspire listeners globally. She has collaborated with various musicians to record her albums, most notably Vuyo Mokoena. Though she does sing in a variety of languages, her music is sung mostly in Zulu. In 2004 Malope began her own SABC-2 TV talk show called Gospel Time. Today ‘Ribs’, as she is affectionately known, writes and produces most of her music. She currently lives in Johannesburg where she has her own studio.
In 2004 despite being told she could not bear children, Rebecca became pregnant but then suffered a miscarriage. That year she legally adopted the daughters of her sister Cynthia who died of AIDS-related diseases.
1994 – Best Gospel Singer
1997 – Best Selling Album for Uzube Nam’
1998 – Best African Gospel Artist & Best Selling Album for Angingedwa
1999 – Best Female Artist and Best African Gospel for Somlandela
2002 – Best Gospel Artist for Sabel Uyabizwa
2003 – Best African Gospel Artist for Iyahamba Lenqola
2004 – Best African Gospel Artist for Hlala Nami