While her haunting vocals on the global hit song Jerusalema continue to reverberate around the world, the South African singer Nomcebo Zikode claims she is yet to receive any money for her work.
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 Gorjeo.
“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," ella añadió.
"I, as a female artist, can’t stay silent any more; the matter is now with my lawyers.”
Jerusalema, recorded with DJ Master KG, became one of the most popular songs de 2020 and a soundtrack of the pandemic. It reached No 1 in Belgium, Rumania, Los países bajos, 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.
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] quiere 70% and I must get 30%,” Master KG tuiteó.
Él dicho 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.
En una declaración, 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,"Se leía.
“The featured artist’s agreement, which reflected an equal split between the two artists, was drafted last year, noviembre, 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 tuiteó: “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," él dijo.
South African musicians took to social media to commiserate with Zikode. A top gospel musician, Khaya Mthethwa, tuiteó: “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.
En el 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 le dijo al guardián el año pasado. 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.”