Dr Sibongile Khumalo is being laid to rest at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on Saturday, February 6.
The legendary opera and jazz maestro succumbed to stroke-related complications on January 28. She was 63.
Khumalo was a world-renowned jazz and opera vocalist with a career spanning over 30 years.
Born in Soweto from a musical dynasty, the daughter of Grace and Professor Khabi Mngoma, Khumalo began her musical journey at the tender age of eight.
Often referred to as the “First Lady of Song”, Khumalo’s music journey started at age eight, where she studied the violin, singing, drama and dance under Emily Motsieloa.
Growing up, she was exposed to music of heavyweights like Letta Mbulu, Miriam Makeba, Roberta Flack, Jimmy Hendricks, Carly Simon and Janis Joplin, among others.
By 14, she was determined to fulfil her dream of becoming an opera singer despite there being no opportunities for black people in SA. She ended up studying her Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in music from the University of Zululand and pursued a career teaching music.
The Soweto-born icon obtained her BA Honours from the University of Witwatersrand and was also awarded honorary doctorates from the University of South Africa as well as the University of Zululand.
In 1993, she walked away with the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music honours. She also bagged four South African Music Awards for her light music and jazz recordings and three FNB Vita Awards for her opera and concert work.
Her final curtain call comes months after she performed for a virtual audience from an empty 1300 seating Opera Theatre, during the State Theatre’s Women’s Month celebration programme, held under Covid-19 lockdown strict restrictions in September.
“As a musical genius, she proved to be a dynamic force able to remain relevant even in harsh environmental waves such as Covid-19 that sought to threaten her craft’s survival,” State Theatre’s director Aubrey Sekhabi, said.