Rebecca Malope, Our Reigning Queen of Gospel, Is Planning to Retire
A titan of the industry, Rebecca Malope (51) has spent more than thirty years lighting up hearts and stages with her sparkling personality and her incredible voice. Now, at afters many year in the music industry, Rebecca’s announcing her retirement, declaring in a Timeslive article, “I have done it all and I thought it is enough. It is time to let others have a chance.”
Obviously, we’re shocked and heartbroken. But rather than mourn our loss, let’s instead give thanks for the music Rebecca gave us and look back at her dazzling career.
Where Rebecca comes from
Rebecca’s first real step towards success came in 1985, when she entered a music contest. She lost. But sometimes what matters isn’t whether you win or lose. Sometimes, having the strength to try is enough. You see, Rebecca’s performance at the music contest impressed a local music producer, Sizwe Zako. Sizwe coached and guided her, and when she entered the contest again in 1987, she won. That was the beginning of great journey for the now Queen of South African Gospel.
God’s grace is evident in Rebecca’s rise to fame. Born in 1968 as Batsogile Lovederia Malope, she survived tragedy again and again throughout her childhood. First, sickness. For a period in her youth, she was unable to walk and believed she would be in a wheelchair her entire life. This made getting an education difficult.
Then there was her father, who subjected his family to terrible abuse. In an interview with The Citizen in 2016, Rebecca told the world the awful story of how he threw her mother into a river filled with crocodiles. Bravely, Rebecca has also described her suicidal feelings after being sexually assaulted, and the story of how she and her sister Cynthia walked over 400 kilometres to Johannesburg looking for work.
Growing from Strength to Strength with every Challenge
Her next challenge came when her debut album didn’t sell as well as hoped. Nonetheless, she persevered. She released her second and third album in the same year – 1989. They were both very successful, and after that, Rebecca was unstoppable.
- She sung at the inauguration ceremony of President Nelson Mandela in 1994.
- She’s created no less than 36 albums over the last thirty years.
- She’s sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
- She’s received over 50 awards.
- She’s performed around the country AND around the world: in Botswana, Angola, Nigeria, Germany, Paris, the USA, and many more.
From Zero to Hero to Dr Rebecca
In 2017, she was given the title ‘Dr’ after receiving an honorary doctorate by the University of Kwazulu-Natal.
Despite her international success, Rebecca has never stopped giving back to her country of birth. In 2015, she performed at the Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation Charity Cup Roadshow. In 2017, she sang at the funeral for the sixteen pupils killed in a taxi crash in Wolvenkop. She’s even hosted a TV show, ‘Gospel Times’, on SABC2.
Tragedy struck once again in 1996 when Rebecca’s father, brother, and sister passed away. Once again, Rebecca rose to the challenge. She’s adopted her sister’s three children, and also started to rebuild her family by marrying businessman Themba Tshabalala. One of her daughters, Noluthando Malope, has become a singer herself, performing at the Centurion Popstars contest in 2010 while also studying for a degree in Commerce. Rebecca even has grandchildren now!
So, what next for Dr Rebecca?
So, what next for Rebecca? After all that, she probably deserves a bit of a rest. Nonetheless, she’s said that she won’t retire from her television career just yet, and that she plans to work ‘behind the scenes’ to mentor and advise young upcoming singers. Moreover, she’ll be spending more time with her family, particularly her children and grandchildren.
Whatever happens, there’s no doubt that Rebecca will continue to fill the world around her with grace and hope. Let’s give thanks for this incredible woman and learn from her example.