RIP-OFF in South Africa:
I composed a Global Hit Music; I have not been paid any Money for my work -Jerusalema velvet singer, NOMCEBO Zikode cries out
…threatens legal action against Open Mic Productions label
*‘I have been ridiculed, with efforts to marginalise my contribution. The continued love and support from the fans of Jerusalema has been my strength and anchor during this difficult time. My voice and lyrics have transcended globally, but I still await what is due to me. As a female artist, I can’t stay silent anymore; the matter is now with my lawyers’
*We have not truly paid Zikode because she is yet to sign the featured artist agreement in our company-Open Mic Management
*Song reached No. 1 in Belgium, Romania, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Switzerland, attained No. 4 on Billboard’s world digital song sales chart, went triple platinum in Italy and double platinum in Spain. On YouTube the music garnered 420million views
*BY REMMY YVONNE/ENTERTAINMENT Correspondent & GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/AMERICAN Foreign Editor
THE SONG has attracted a lot of attention and garnered so much fame which cuts across all colors, races, and ages around the world. The song ‘Jerusalema’, composed by Nomcebo Zikode, a South African lady, a highly endowed singer who rendered the hit in Zulu, a language in Nelson Mandela’s country has stirred the honest nest claiming she is yet to receive any money for her work from Open Mic productions label, record outfit to which her music was released.
The singer took to social media on Sunday threatening legal action against Open Mic Productions, the label that recorded Jerusalema in late 2019.
“My voice and lyrics have transcended globally, but I still await what is due to me,” Zikode claimed in an emotional statement to her fans on Twitter. I have not been paid a cent by the label for Jerusalema despite the song’s global success. I have been ridiculed, with efforts to marginalise my contribution. The continued love and support from the fans of Jerusalema has been my strength and anchor during this difficult time,” she added.
“I, as a female artist, can’t stay silent anymore; the matter is now with my lawyers.”
Jerusalema, recorded with DJ Master KG, became one of the most popular songs of 2020 and a soundtrack of the pandemic. It reached No 1 in Belgium, Romania, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Switzerland. It reached No 4 on Billboard’s world digital song sales chart, went triple platinum in Italy and double platinum in Spain.
On YouTube the song has garnered 420million views, while the remix featuring Nigerian artist Burna Boy has had more than 21million views. Master KG, who has won global awards for the song, has hit back at Zikode’s claims, saying the singer wants a larger share of the proceeds than originally agreed.
“The agreement of Jerusalema is 50/50 between me and Nomcebo but (Nomcebo) wants 70% and I must get 30%,” Master KG tweeted. He said Zikode had been paid 1.5m rand (£75,000).
Zikode’s relationship with Open Mic Productions has soured recently. The record company contracted another female artist, Zanda Zakuza, to replace her on the Jerusalema world tour.
In a statement, Open Mic Productions admitted the artist had not been paid for the song owing to a contractual disagreement.
“We can confirm that during the creation of the song that Master KG (the main artist) and Nomcebo Zikode (the featured artist) agreed on sharing 50/50 of Master KG’s earnings,” it read.
“The featured artist’s agreement, which reflected an equal split between the two artists, was drafted last year, November, for both parties to sign. Nomcebo Zikode through her legal team reviewed the contract and proposed for a higher percentage.”
It said neither artist has been paid because Zikode has yet to sign the featured artist agreement.
“This is the agreement that stipulates amongst other matters, what percentage of Master KG’s artist royalties is payable to Nomcebo for her role as a featured artist in the song. These engagements remain ongoing and as soon as these are concluded and the agreement is signed by all the parties, payment will be made immediately.”
Master KG tweeted: “Last year Nomcebo started Jerusalema tour without me and I never had a problem and few weeks back I started my tour and then Nomcebo went to the media and created a story that I’m leaving her behind … I don’t really know why things must be like this,” he said.
South African musicians took to social media to commiserate with Zikode. A top gospel musician, Khaya Mthethwa, tweeted: “This is heartbreaking. Standing with you sis.”
At the peak of the pandemic last year, the song sparked a global dance craze when a group of friends in Angola shot a video dancing to the song.
In the video, over lunch, a group of young men holding plates of food start to demonstrate the dance routine to a group of women who join in. It was followed by another video from Portugal, and the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge was born.
Clips of dancers across the globe now include nuns, construction workers, police officers, waiters, and petrol station attendants. There were also emotional videos of healthcare workers, which became a source of hope for patients with Covid-19.
The song was made the official soundtrack for South Africa’s Heritage Day by President Cyril Ramaphosa last year, while businesses also took advantage of its popularity to market their products as they danced to it.
The upbeat song is a lamentation for God to take the singer to the heavenly city. It is translated from the native Zulu language: “Jerusalem is my home/ Guide me / Take me with You / Do not leave me here.”
“All of this happened when I was about to lose hope,” Zikode reportedly said last year. After so many years of being a backing singer, she wanted her voice to be heard. “The lyrics are a plea for God to answer this prayer.”
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