Since 2019, Zahara alleged that her former record label TS Records owed her millions of unpaid royalties and performance fees.
Zahara’s passing has shone the spotlight on her time at TS Records, where she released three albums. After leaving TS Records in 2016 Zahara claimed she was owed millions by the independent label.
Bulelwa ‘Zahara’ Mkutukana died on Monday night, with her death being confirmed by Sports, Arts and Culture minister Zizi Kodwa.
“I am very saddened by the passing of Zahara. My deepest condolences to the Mkutukana family and the South African music industry,” said Kodwa.
Zahara was 35 years-old. Zahara’s assertions were that TS Records underpaid for her performances, the sale of her records, and royalties for when her songs were played on radio.
The three albums Zahara released under TS Records are debut album Loliwe, Phendula and Country Girl. The label closed down in 2017.
TS Records blamed
In 2019 Zahara publicly claimed that her former record label owed her money.
“I want my money back, all of it. Many artists suffer in silence, suffer depression and ultimately die paupers. I won’t be a statistic. I will speak out,” she said at the time.
“I have been silent for too long because I was scared that my music career would be sabotaged. Lots of people get blackmailed and end up being blocked in the industry.”
“Many artists are embarrassed to even return home or call for help after people are done with us.”
DJ Sbu and Nciza hadn’t responded to calls, text messages and emails from The Citizen at the time of publishing. The story will be updated should they respond.
“She needs prayers. I’ve not worked with her for three years,” said Nciza, who is now ANC provincial secretary.
“Now that things are going bad she wants to make an excuse and point fingers,” said the former record executive.
“My sister Zahara, we made history together. But I miss you Bulelwa, but what I don’t like is when she goes out and says I owe her money because you know that’s a lie,” said DJ Sbu, in 2021.
“If you go down to the books at Universal Music, she actually owes us money, she doesn’t know that. Zahara was getting 50% royal rate, and TS Records was getting paid 50% and it wasn’t supposed to be like that,” said the entrepreneur whose real name is Sibusiso Leope.
“She was a millionaire when we went apart, I don’t know what went wrong,” said DJ Sbu.
In the interview from two years ago on his platform, Massive Metro, the media personality asserts TS Records helped the award winning singer when she was experiencing financial and health challenges.
Singer’s health issues
“She remembers those two Christmases when nobody was by her side. The second time actually, she was going through the most, nobody was there for her. She was in hospital, she was going through a liver problem and the doctors said she was drinking alcohol.”
Last month, Zahara’s family told The Citizen she was admitted to hospital after complaints about physical pain. They were hopeful of her recovery and that she would be home by the end of the week.
“The doctors are working diligently, and we await further updates from them… In the meantime, we are asking for privacy on this matter and your continued prayers for the speedy recovery of our beloved Zahara,” the family later added in a statement.