At the virtual 2020 BET Awards, amapiano artist Sha Sha beat out crossover successes Rema, Celeste and Young T & Bugsey to win the viewer’s choice best new international act award. “I never saw that coming,” she says over Zoom from her home in Johannesburg. “I felt like I was still working toward that type of recognition.”
Sha Sha, who has been recording music in her bedroom since she was 19, got her start when a friend sent one of her songs to a radio station in Zimbabwe. It received airplay and attracted the attention of local producer-singer Audius Mtawarira, who served as a mentor to Sha Sha. Her first single, “Miss Independent,” found success in Zimbabwe and South Africa, where she often traveled to visit her mother before relocating. It’s there she connected with DJ Maphorisa — one of South Africa’s most established producers who’s credited on Drake’s “One Dance” and Major Lazer’s “Particula” — after talking to a cab driver who put her in touch. “I played Maphorisa one of my ballads,” says Sha Sha. “From there, I started working with a whole different level of artists.” By 2018, Sha Sha signed a record deal with Maphorisa’s Blaqboy label, which has a joint venture with Sony Music Africa. She released her debut EP, Blossom, the following year.