Zonke’s work of heart



This breathtaking work is one of those classic albums that rewards repeat listens, gradually revealing new layers and nuances as you delve deeper into it.

The title reflects that the music, lyrics and emotions expressed come from a place of sincere honesty. On Work of Heart, Zonke is revealing her most personal truth exactly as she feels it.

For all that, the album is a massively entertaining, musically coherent work in diverse styles, displaying varied influences and dripping with hit singles.

“This is coming straight from my heart,” she says. “My previous album was consciously South African. Here I’m just expressing myself and things must just come out the way I feel them.”

“I have many influences – local and international. I wanted to be more honest about my songs and my craft. I allowed myself to just be. The songs came out the way they came out. There were no preconceived ideas.”

Zonke is the only female artist on the South African scene writing, producing and performing her own work. On Work Of Heart she has produced a magically eclectic album that will have timeless appeal.

Zonke Signing Festival Mall 27 Sep 2015


– A strings-laden vocal workout by Zonke to ease listeners into the album.

“They tell me birds of a feather always fly together. But no, not me. I’m a lonesome dove.”

“The lyrics are musical as well as personal,” says Zonke. “I’m always flying in the opposite direct to the trends. “But I know there’s someone looking out for me. I’m not so alone. There are also a lot of strings on this one. It makes you think it’s gonna be a very strings-heavy album, but it’s not that at all. Just because you use strings and orchestral elements doesn’t mean they should dominate.”


Dear Child

– A piano intro builds into a heartfelt ballad with another of Zonke’s trademark killer vocal hooks!

“If I choose to hear you if I choose to embrace you, maybe I can be as your are, dear child.”

“For this song I had inspiration from my kids. Wow. It hurts to see them hurting. But they’re so loving. Seeing them smile and laugh is just so powerful. If we could be more childlike, the world would be such a great place.”

The Great Storm

– A massive, anthemic song with an insistent Afro-jazzy keyboard riff and a processed guitar skank. The makings an instant classic.

Hey I’m sorry for breaking your heart. I see you looking around – you don’t know where to start and that breaks mine too. Please forgive me, don’t know any better. I know today I can learn to open my heart and love you too.”

“Some people think this is a break-up song, and its great if that’s what they take from it. Part of the beauty of art is that it’s open to interpretation. Actually the song comes from what was happening in South Africa during the most recent xenophobic attacks. It was heartbreaking for everyone.”

SOS (Release me)

A haunting tune with throbbing keyboards and strings, that speaks of a soul’s desperation.

“My life will never be the same. I keep trying until I find my way home. So release me now. You’ll never have my heart so just release me now.”

I recorded this when hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls had been kidnapped. I couldn’t get that out of my mind. My daughter is 13, so I felt it deeply. The song says the spirit goes where it needs to go. You will never kill the spirit. When I write, I hear the whole song fully formed – melody, lyrics, instrumentation. Then the challenge is to get the production to match what I hear in my head!”

Meet me in my dreams

– A catchy, mid-tempo pop song that ironically comes from a painful place. It’s about the loss of Zonke’s sister, fellow artist Lulu Dikana.

“Go to sleep now, don’t you worry. Cos I will love you till my days are no more. But you gotta promise me… you will meet me in my dreams.”

I wrote this song for Lulu. But I wanted it to express a more universal kind of pain. I didn’t want to say ‘RIP Lulu’. I wanted people to get their own meaning from it. In the same way my song Viva The Legend – about my dad, Viva – is often thought to be about Madiba, Mr Mandela.

Free State Of Mind

– A stripped-down, electronic groove built on a driving beat and Zonke’s voice.

“Clear blue skies, no more rainy days, nothing but light ahead. I’m in the mood for a new free state of mind.”

“My aim for this album was to have a minimalistic feel. I really wanted to hold back on the instrumentation. It tried not to harmonise too much. I sometimes think it borders on cheesy. When you’ve got access to a whole studio, the temptation is to overdo it. But this has an international sound. I wanted it to be accessible to everyone, not just South Africans. There are isiXhosa lyrics on Work Of Heart, but less than on previous albums.

Reach it

An irresistible call-and-response chorus rides over a keyboard groove, a tambourine and little else. The first single off the album

“What am I gonna say, staring at your face? Will you be kind to me? One day I’ll reach it.”

“This is about reaching for a dream or realising your potential. I always personify things. Success has a gatekeeper, and in this song I’m talking to the gatekeeper, saying, “Will you let me in?”

Grateful (Interlude)

– Practically a cappella, this is a personal thank-you from the singer to her fans.

“I’m grateful for the music, grateful for the people who love and care for me. I love and care for you, I appreciate you more.”

“This is to the fans. God and the fans. And the people who have been in my life, passed through and left their mark on me. It’s easy to just assume people know you’re grateful. It’s important to tell them I’m grateful.”

This is it

– A vinyl crackle introduces a familiar guitar lick. And then comes a vocal hook that won’t quit.

“I wanna know who’s loving you now. I wanna know who’s hugging my baby…”

“When I wrote this, the guitar part sounded like an old melody. Something timeless. I know it sounds old, but I didn’t want to complicate it just for the sake of it. On this album I wanted to go with the first thing I heard. The best songs in the world aren’t complicated. They just are!”


– A Stevie-wonder-style clavinet keyboard drives a funky gospel tribute to the man above.

“Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on when life gets colder. Well mine is the best. I know I put it to the test…”

“This is churchy and there’s no mistaking that it’s a tribute to my lord and saviour. I wanted to have that Nineties-gospel, Sounds Of Blackness vibe.”

Funky Lovin’ (Stay With Me)

A rolling breakbeat skips into a lover’s funky showdown with her confused love interest.

“What’s it gonna be? I need you here with me. No more fronting, we ain’t playing, you’re with me.”

“This is about the way men sometimes act so cool with women they’re interested in, that it seems they couldn’t even be bothered. It’s quite childish. Why snub someone you actually like? It’s loving, but there’s something funky about it!”

Those days

– A nostalgia trip, on the wings of Zonke’s sultry voice, back to the days when life was simple.

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