Rebecca Malope was born in 1968 in Lekazi, near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga. Over and above the fact that Rebecca did not progress far in her education, little is known about her early childhood. Rebecca was confined to a wheelchair at an early age following an illness and doctors believed that she would not walk again. Her family was very poor and in 1986 Rebecca and her sister, Cynthia, hiked 400 KMs from their home to the Johannesburg township of Evaton to seek employment.
Rebecca has released 35 albums throughout her musical career, which spans over three decades long. She released her 30th album, My Hero, in 2009 which contained double CDs. She released her 31st album in 2010. Rebecca’s 32nd album is titled “Ukuthula” which translates to the word “peace” in English.
Rebecca quoted in a local newspaper, “in Ukuthula people must expect rejuvenating sounds and I love the whole album. I decided on that name after thinking about the state the world is in today. People have no peace. There is war everywhere, even in churches. I want people to come together and, more importantly, have peace in their lives so that we can have peace in the world.”
Her latest album was released in 2014 and is titled Ama VIP. Her first ten albums went gold. In fact, most of her 35 albums have reached multi-platinum status and she has sold more than 10million albums worldwide, making her one of the biggest selling artists of all time.
Throughout the duration of her career she has proved that relevance and resounding with your fans is a great recipe for success.
Rebecca’s story to stardom is truly an inspirational one. She entered the Shell Road to Fame competition but was unsuccessful and entered again in 1987, in which she won the Best Female Vocalist Category. With the assistance of Sizwe Zako and Peter Tladi, Rebecca raised enough money to record her first album, which achieved gold status in a matter of weeks.
Dubbed The Queen of Gospel, where does Rebecca hail from? She was born in Nelspruit and had a dream of becoming a singer, which brought her to Johannesburg in the mid-1980s. She and her sister lived in a shack in someone’s backyard. Their experience there was not exactly rosy, as they couldn’t sleep when it rained. “The roof leaked so badly that we had to get up and wait until it stopped,” said Rebecca.
Later on, a band, titled Savuka—not the Johnny Cleg one— needed singers and took them both on. The band entered the 1985 Shell Road to Fame Talent Search competition and it wasn’t exactly the stuff of legends in which she knocked the socks off the judges.
“We actually failed at the beginning,” she admitted.
Fortunately this failure did not result in the end of Rebecca’s dream. Among the judges was Sizwe Zako, who saw something in the young Rebecca.
“Afterwards he called me over and said that we should not feel bad and that perhaps the problem was that the song that we were singing did not suit my voice” she explained.
That pep talk produced the dream-making telephone number, which Rebecca was to call so that further work could be done on the dream. However, it was not as easy. Rebecca and her sister were so poor and so down and out that they could not even scrape together the money for a phone call.
A year lapsed until Rebecca was faced with another chance meeting with Zako. It was at the offices of another record company, where they had gone to flog their talents to another producer.
"We didn't recognise each other immediately, but when we realised, he said he'd been looking for me for quite some time."
In 1995 "Shwele Baba" sold more than 1 million copies in three weeks, becoming the fastest selling CD in the history of SA music. Following that she toured Britain in 1997 and 2002 and the USA in 2001.
Rebecca didn’t stop there. She made her debut in acting in e.TVs Ekasi our Stories when she played the promiscuous woman “Candy”. Rebecca doesn’t believe that acting was as big a challenge as she thought and will definitely see a new pathway open up to her.
Rebecca also headlined the President of the Association of Christian Artists in Swaziland with award winning star, Benjamin Dube. The Night of Legends was held in August 2015.