After a banger 2018, SAMA-winning musician Lady Zamar reflects on her success.
It’s safe to say that Lady Zamar has had a good year. Not only are songs from her 2017 album, King Zamar, still blowing up airwaves, she also scooped a 2018 South African Music Award (SAMA) for Best Dance Album and was nominated in the Favourite Music Artist category for the DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards 2018.
‘Winning my SAMA… That was a moment and a half!’ she says, laughing. ‘Everything was worth it at that moment. Everything. The tears, the ups and downs – it was all worth it. King Zamar was really a labour of love. It was one of the scariest and most challenging things I’ve ever done. It tested my patience. It tested my faith. That album was a lot. It is a lot.’
Having heard her incredible vocal range and seen her perform at some of South Africa’s most high-profile events, I’m unprepared for the real Lady Zamar in person. She’s quieter than I expected, but if the phrase ‘still waters run deep’ was ever true, it applies to this woman.
‘As a kid I was very shy,’ she tells me. ‘I still am. Singing has always been my refuge. Melody has a way of evoking strong emotions. I’ve always used it as a way to harness what is going on inside and to understand it.’
If the success of King Zamar is anything to go by, the people of Mzansi relate to ‘what is going on inside’ Lady Zamar. I ask her what inspired her incredible debut album.
‘It was the need to be free from the musical constraints that held me down at the time, the need to express myself as a person, not just as an artist. To say, “This is my identity. I’m not just good at what you think I’m good at. I’m good at other things too.”’
Those ‘other things’ include writing and composing, and it was high time the world knew about these heretofore hidden talents. As is the case with so many of our top female talents, the public was first introduced to Lady Zamar as a ‘featuring’ credit on an established male artist’s track. It must surely mean a lot to her, then, to have her own album out?
‘Art is expression, and it’s freedom,’ she says, then pauses, choosing her next words carefully. ‘I frown upon collaboration sometimes. Even though it’s a great instrument for advancement, sometimes it can be the very thing that’s used to suppress. Some people will make a song and they’ll “feature” someone who actually did all the work. It happens all the time. I never really spoke about those controversies at the time, because I believe it’s important to preserve the integrity of the art itself – you can’t be dragging it through the mud at the time of its reign.
For more on Lady Zamar, page through the November issue of Balanced Life.