Yvonne Chaka Chaka

Singer and Musician - Johannesburg
Yvonne Chaka Chaka


Yvonne Chaka Chaka (born Yvonne Machaka in 1965) is a South African singer.

Dubbed the "Princess of Africa", Chaka Chaka has been at the forefront of South African popular music for 20 years. Songs like "I'm Burning Up", "thank you mister dj", "I Cry for Freedom", "Makoti", "Motherland" and the ever-popular "Umqombothi" ("African Beer") ensured Yvonne's stardom.

The song "Umqombothi" was featured in the opening scene of the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda.

From bubblegum popstar in the 1980's, to talkshow presenter and host in the new millennium, Yvonne Chaka Chaka is an entertainment icon of South Africa and Africa.

Chaka Chaka first hit the South African music charts as a teenager in 1984 with the explosive hit "I'm in Love with a DJ". The disco sounds - shaped by the producer Sello 'Chicco' Twala - built on the mbaqanga roots of urban South African music, but with a synthesised edge and English lyrics. The style soon became known as 'bubblegum", and Yvonne Chaka Chaka (alongside Brenda Fassi) was to remain at its forefront for much of the 1980's.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka


Her powerful alto vocals were beautifully showcased on her next hit - the 1988 album Umqombothi, with song of the same title. This partying celebration of African sorghum beer was certainly pop, but grooved closer to a mbaqanga bassline, with a singalong chorus which hooked not only South Africans, but much of Africa.

By the late 1980's Umqombothi and Yvonne Chaka Chaka were pan African flavours: she toured extensively in Africa, playing stadium concerts in Nigeria, Kenya and Zaire. Aside from the South African exiles, she was South Africa's primary musical icon in Africa, a legacy she still enjoys today.

Inspired in part by her extensive travels on the continent, she shed her disco image, and restyled in African head-dress and fabric, was repositioned as a "Princess of Africa".

During the 1990's, she continued to tour - and sell albums - in almost every sub-saharan country. She has performed for a multitude of African Heads-of-State, including historic occasions accompanying the emergence of the new South Africa. She is a patron of the "Giving and Sharing" project, a campaign of "indigenous giving and philanthropy", and is involved in a variety of fundraising and benefit causes, notably the Orlando Children's Home, and HIV work.

She released the album "Yvonne and Friends" late in 2000, which featured guests artists including Tsepo Tshola, formerly of Sankomota. In 2002, she took on the role of radio and tv presenter and talk show host, consolidating her transformation from "Princess of Africa" to that of a leading businesswoman, entertainer and educator. She is married to a Soweto physician, and is mother to four sons.


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