By now you have probably watched the numerous videos that have been posted online of fans around the world dancing along to an infectious South African house music beat.
The song “Jerusalema” an electronic dance rhythm by South African producer Master KG featuring the haunting vocals of Nomcebo Zikode, has caught the imagination of fans across the world, from nuns and monks dancing in Italy to children dancing on the streets of Nairobi.
It is undoubtedly one of the global hits of a year when the music business has taken a huge hit from the coronavirus pandemic.
Ironically, the power of music has been most evident during this period, when a hitherto little known South African artist can produce a song that connects people right across the globe, taking up the dance challenge to create their videos.
The official video for the song has been watched 107 million times on YouTube as of the beginning of this week and the videos uploaded by different people around the world taking up the ‘Jerusalema’ dance challenge have also garnered millions of views.
A remix of the song was released in July featuring a guest appearance by the Nigerian superstar Burna Boy and the single topped the recently launched UK Afrobeats Singles Chart for two weeks during August.
Master KG has been an emerging star on the South African music scene for the last few years winning awards and recognition from the industry players for his innovative approach to music.
In a sense, the success of “Jerusalema” is just the fulfilment of an artist who has worked with passion and determination on his craft from a young age, both as a producer and a performer.
Born Kgaugelo Moagi in a village in the Limpopo province of South Africa in 1996, the dream of a career in music for the second born in a family of three started in childhood.
The opportunity to pursue that dream came when an uncle bought him a second-hand computer on which he began creating his beats using pirated software.
“I loved music but didn’t know how to make it, so I needed time to focus on learning the software and even when I was in school, my mind would be on my unfinished music,” he recalls.
Within two years when he was in Grade 12, he had mastered the skills to create house music beats. That computer turned out to be a blessing because some of his biggest songs such as “Skeleton Move” were first composed on that machine.
The pressure of performing at weekends and becoming a celebrity forced him to drop out of school to become a full-time musician.
In 2017, the South African record label Open Mic came calling looking for the wunderkind who was setting dance floors alight in Limpopo. At this time Master KG had just released the single “Situation” that was receiving wide airplay on local radio. A deal was struck with the label and the rough copy of that single was mastered and re-released complete with a video that has currently been viewed 25 million times on YouTube.
In 2018, Master KG went back to ‘Skeleton Move” that he had composed two years prior and added the vocals of singer Zanda Zakuza and additional horn instrumentation and that marked a breakthrough for the young talent.
Then came the release of “Jerusalema” a prayer in Zulu (Ikhaya Lami “Jerusalema is my home”) featuring the extraordinary vocals of Nomcebo Zikode, a singer also signed to the Open Mic label.
“It is a dream come true, priceless,” says Master KG. “Even when you win all these awards the feeling doesn’t diminish. I am asking myself ‘is this really me, God is great’.”
Music has been rewarding to the young artist in many ways: He has built his mother a house in the village and despite her initial opposition to his music, she is now his number one after seeing all the success that he has achieved with his talent and skill.
“The story of my life is that it doesn’t matter where you come from, everything is possible as long as you believe in yourself,” he says.
“Do not mind any criticism, just keep following your dream, it might not come true today, but it will eventually happen.”
His next project is the release of a deluxe edition of the album “Jerusalema” album containing additional songs. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is catching on to the popular dance craze.
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