Jerusalema singer Nomcebo Zikode shares secret of her song-writing inspiration with BizNews. LISTEN!

Written on 11/07/2020
Jarryd Neves

Nomcebo Zikode, the songstress who penned the hit Jerusalema, spoke to BizNews about the viral sensation that has been embraced worldwide.

Jerusalema is the South African hit that has got the world – from Italian monks to Zimbabwean farm hands – dancing and finding hope amid the gloom of the Covid-19 pandemic. The viral hit was created on a December night in Midrand, months before the coronavirus pandemic would disrupt the lives of every living human being on the planet. Jerusalema was created by Master KG and gospel singer Nomcebo Zikode. Little did they know that the song and the dance moves created with it would bring fortune in the form of a brand new Ferrari for Master KG and fame to both of them. In September this year, it became the most Shazamed song in history. Zikode spoke to Linda van Tilburg about her source of inspiration. – Linda van Tilburg 

Jerusalema created by music producer and musician, Master KG and South African singer, Nomcebo opens with a catchy four to a bar beat and it has gone viral all over the world. A few weeks ago, it reached 200 million views and has since gone past 220 million and still it appears that is not the end.  It truly defines what the word viral means.

The success of the track is not only the beat and the incredibly beautiful voice of Nomcebo, it has become a viral dance phenomenon drawing not only the gospel community, but politicians, sports stars, health care workers and people from all corners of the globe have taken on the challenge to copy the dance steps.  The dance steps were created by a group of friends in Angola who shot a video that sparked a global trend.  It was followed by a video in Portugal that started the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge.

The dance challenge was endorsed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. He called it a celebration of South African-ness and urged citizen to take up the challenge on Heritage Day earlier this year.  Tutorials of the dance steps are available online with many celebrities including footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and singer Janet Jackson mentioning it on social media. Even Catholic priests and nuns were seen doing a version of the dance.

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The words of the song appears to have struck a chord in the difficult times that people are experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic.  It is a call for God to take the singer Nomcebo to the heavenly city of Jerusalem. BizNews managed to track down the singer, Nomcebo, on the road while she was travelling to promote her new record.  She has not worked with Master KG before and she told us she managed to write the words of the song in the studio.  It was at a time when she was going through a difficult time and praying that things would change in her life.

I heard that you wrote this in the studio when you heard the beat. What inspired you come up with these incredible words?

To tell you the honest truth, I’m not too sure. I did not sit down and say, ‘you know what Nomcebo, you must write about Jerusalema. But the lyrics came out from me, naturally. So only after maybe a few days, I realised that actually, I wrote about this song because I was stressed. I was not in a happy place. So, I was talking to God saying, God take me to a spiritual Jerusalema where I can find happiness because I was not at peace where I was.

What was happening in your life? Why was that? 

I felt I was doing nothing. Music is my life and the only work for me and nothing was happening. So, I was also talking to God, asking him, ‘Help me. How can I sleep? I wake up in the morning being down, I can’t sleep at night. So, I asked, ‘take this voice’.  This is exactly what God did for me.

How do you feel that the song has been embraced by so many people?

Honestly speaking, I also get calls from the pastors. They are sending me messages saying, you know, Nomcebo, we believe that God sent you. You also don’t know why you sing this song during Covid-19, but we believe that God sent you to sing this song so that you can combine everyone, because this song actually unites all of us. Indians, Coloureds, Whites, Blacks.

During lockdown, we were able to find happiness through this song and also connect with God through this song. So, it is an amazing feeling having such a big song, because seeing people not only from your country, but people all over the world dancing to the lyrics that you wrote – dancing to your voice – it’s an amazing feeling.

You know, sometimes I cry. I pinch myself. I will ask God, ‘is this is really happening? Do you really answer people’s prayers?’. Because sometimes we pray and pray and pray and nothing is happening. Remember, I’ve been a backing singer for more than 15 years and I was about to lose hope.

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