Did you know?
Yvonne Chaka Chaka was the first black child to appear on South African television, in 1981.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka is one of South Africa’s best-loved daughters. An acclaimed singer, she has been an integral part of the country’s music industry for more than 25 years.
Born into a humble Soweto family in 1965 as Yvonne Machaka, she broke onto the local music scene when just a teen with the disco-inspired hit, I'm in Love with a DJ. This radical new sound was unlike anything audiences had heard before and quickly garnered her a following among South Africa’s urban youth. Her debut album of the same name went on to sell 35 000 copies, catapulting her into the limelight.
What followed was a string of hits that successfully merged mbaqanga (a rhythmical style with Zulu roots) influences with the new pop sounds, effectively positioning Chaka Chaka at the forefront of the so-called ‘bubblegum’ music genre both at home and throughout Africa.
By the late 80s Yvonne was South Africa’s hottest musical export, having toured Africa extensively and playing to sell-out stadium concerts in many countries. Throughout the 90s she continued to delight African audiences, her style evolving to reflect more Afro-traditional musical influences and her lyrics becoming increasingly personal.
Chaka Chaka’s dedication to and relationship with Africa earned her the title ‘Princess of Africa’. Among those who fondly refer to the star by this name is Nelson Mandela, who once said her music helped sustain him and others while imprisoned on Robben Island.
In fact, as a performer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka is no stranger to entertaining luminaries, having performed for Queen Elizabeth, ex-United States President Bill Clinton and several African heads of state. She has shared the stage with Bono, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox, Youssou N'Dour and Queen.
In more recent years she enjoyed stints as a record producer, radio and TV presenter, talkshow host, actress and businesswoman. She has a keen interest in humanitarian work and is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations’ Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka has received numerous music awards throughout her career. In 2012 she was honoured for her humanitarian work when she received the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award for artists who improve the world through their work. She was the first ever woman to receive the award.