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Obituary: Sibongile Khumalo (1957 – 2021)

It is with profound sadness that the Creative Feel team reports on another great loss to the South African arts this month, the death of Dr Sibongile Khumalo. The celebrated singer succumbed to stroke-related complications following a lengthy illness. She was 63.

Sibongile Khumalo obituary 2021
Sibongile Khumalo on the cover of Creative Feel (then Classic Feel magazine) in February 2002

Khumalo, who was born in Orlando West, Soweto, took to music from an early age and went on to develop a repertoire that ranged from opera and jazz, to choral music and musical theatre. Following music degrees from the universities of Zululand and Wits, the musician gained prominence as a Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner in 1993, and became a global musical icon who performed on stages both locally and internationally.
     Later in her career, Khumalo was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in silver for her contribution to the culture and music of South Africa, and also received honourary doctorates from Rhodes University, The University of South Africa, and the University of Zululand.
     In addition to her prolific discography and performing history, Khumalo is remembered by many for her performance at the late President Nelson Mandela’s 75th birthday and his 1994 inauguration.

Sibongile Khumalo obituary 2021
Sibongile Khumalo PHOTO Standard Bank Joy of Jazz

Creative Feel editor in chief Loré Watterson reflects on the publication’s early encounters with Khumalo, saying, ‘It is so terrible to lose another one of our great musicians, Sibongile Khumalo! I first met her when we had her for the first time on our cover, what was then Classicfeel Magazine and we kept in touch ever since. She was not only a great musician of classical music, her voice for jazz was something special. RIP Sibongile.’

Sibongile Khumalo obituary 2021

Speaking on behalf of the Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestras, CEO Bongani Tembe says, ‘The South African music world has lost a rare talent. Sibongile Khumalo excelled in both jazz, traditional and western classical music. She performed a number of times with distinction with both the Johannesburg and KZN Philharmonic Orchestras.’

‘As a singer myself, I had the privilege of performing side by side on stage with her a number of times and indeed she was so gifted and inimitable. Our deepest sympathies to her family and may her soul rest in peace.’

Bongani Tembe

The Creative Feel team joins the nation in mourning the loss of one of our brightest musical stars, and extends our condolences to Khumalo’s family and friends.  

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