The evolution of a diva

She always stayed up late. She yearned for more and the galas offered a welcome diversion for distressed mankind. At a primal level, Sandra Ndebele was the epitome of the wild mare, the artiste who danced with a verve and athleticism that accomplished gymnasts could only envy. The shrill protest of the sanctimonious could not dumb her flame down. She rolled on and rode that wave for as good as it got and for as long as it lasted. Her sex appeal was never tawdry. Her raunchiness was never decadent.

She teased without giving away too much. She titillated and whetted appetites. She fired the popular imagination with her incendiary dances. Still, her journey may be emblematic of a female artiste’s journey in showbiz in a hypocritical society such as Zimbabwe. Her name has been entangled in controversy. But her debut was in 2003 on the back of Tshaya Tshaya, which was produced by one of Zimbabwe’s unheralded music producers Joe Maseko of the House of Rising Sound. Incidentally, Maseko was for a long time the producer of Botswana’s most successful music group Cultural Spears. To hear her recount, her journey from the remote regions of Zimbabwe, in the country’s growth points, under sungura musician Alick Macheso’s wings, to the national stage at the national galas, one can hardly doubt. A look at Ndebele’s journey reveals an artiste plotting to catapault herself further into stardom, if one considers her come back hit song Ingoma on heavy rotation on Trace Africa. The Andy “Cutta” Sobhuza-directed video showcases a new and sassier image, albeit with less of the vigorous dancing. All put together, her more self-assured vocals can be taken as a statement of intent for the married mother of three. Recently she completed another duet with a high-profile South African artiste, kwaito star Professor. She looks poised for a serious rebound. IndependentXtra’s Admire Kudita, (AK), interviewed the Bulawayo-based chanteuse who is bristling with confidence.

AK: I have a couple of questions for you. From the beginning of this year you upped the ante in terms of your music; you changed your sound and you went regional if not African, on digital satellite television platforms. Further, you won the Bulawayo Arts Merit Awards (BAA). You are appearing in so many local and international gigs, what is driving the change?

SN: That’s the new me. I am no longer a Zimbabwean girl, but an international girl.The sound is relevant to everyone now.

AK: Tell us about the publishing deal?

SN: I got a contract with an American company that spotted me on Ingoma. Their deal was lucrative and I went for it

AK: Spotted you where?

SN: On Trace and they followed me.

AK: Ambition?

SN: To be an internationally-recognised pop star from Bulawayo and hopefully it will open avenues for artistes from this region.

AK: The collaborations and highlights?

SN: I just finished a collaboration called Nizwile with Professor (a South African urban musician majoring in Kwaito music) and shot a video for it.

AK: How did that come about?

SN: The big names are also seeing your little sister getting relevant to the industry and also the potential (thereof).

AK: When is the new Sandy album coming out?

SN: Because of a lot of international collabos and working with bigger brands than mine, my plans have changed a bit; the album will be out next year March.

AK: Do you have management? And if so, what do they do for you?

SN: Yes I have. For now we are concentrating on repositioning our brand. So we working harder on the multi-media side and being relevant on the social media.

Her list of accolades include Best Female Dancer for the (Nama), Best Urban grooves female Artiste (Zima), Nominee Best Live Band Act and the latest being BAA for Best Female Artiste in the inaugural event this year. She has toured Russia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and China. She is the ambassador for Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, National Blood Service of Zimbabwe, Mpilo Hospital and Suzuki. Has Sandra paid the cost to be the boss lady of Zimbabwean pop?

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