Lulu Dikana: Goodbye to an artist’s artist

Born: December 18 1978

Died: December 3 2014

Writing or speaking of someone you adore, admire and love in the past tense is not only unsettling, but devastatingly painful.

I open with this disclaimer as a means to appeal for your understanding and patience for the incoherence you are bound to stumble upon in this tribute.

I’m tasked with paying tribute to someone whose generosity of spirit, healthy obsession with the truth, commitment to Christ, intense love for music, and devotion to her son and sisters is unparalleled.

Here is someone who paid no heed and was the least phased by the prevailing frivolity that occupies the luscious proportions of our daily lives. This was strange and compelling, considering the industry she had chosen as a vehicle for her marvellous gift of song to find expression. The industry that introduced us to the superpower that was Lulu Dikana.

She despised the callous and shallow nature of the entertainment industry. She was averse to all its cunning ways and superficial dictates. The seduction of superstardom and its delusions of grandeur never resonated with her.

Instead, she remained true to her calling, one she undertook with gusto, zeal, enthusiasm, precision, dedication and sincerity. She had a clarity of vision that’s lacking in many an artist’s life.

Lulu came to this life to sing; to delight, love and to heal through her music. Her entire life was centred on these four fundamental principles. All her actions and decisions (personal and business) were informed by these values. This observation was cemented by her beloved sister Zonke, who I talked to a few minutes before I started writing this tribute.

She spoke about what made her sister and mentor so extraordinarily unique.

Lulu was an artist’s artist; a musician’s musician. Her spiritually inspired body of work was created for those blessed with the supreme gift of a musically intelligent ear. That discerning ear that possesses the enormous power to allow those who consumed her art to feel deeply and immensely.

Each note she delivered dripped with impeccable musicality. As a songwriter and composer, her writing style was simplistic in nature, incredibly profound in character and absolutely gorgeous aesthetically.

All that Lulu created carried a challenging profundity with a dangerous potential to affront those who are incongruent with their inner selves.

Given the apparent lack of music appreciation and music education in South Africa, it therefore comes as no surprise why many South Africans were oblivious to this giant of song up until her last hypnotic and sensational stage performance at the Coca-Cola dome last month, where she opened for US R&B singer John Legend’s South African leg of the All of Me Tour.

Through her music, Lulu wrote a compelling book on life and love. I encourage you to acquaint yourselves with her music. I take the liberty to speak on behalf of those who had the rare privilege to know her.

I’m most certain they will echo my humble sentiment that Lungisa Lucille Dikana was one of the greatest lessons we had to learn.

Lulu released three albums during her career. Her debut album, My Diary, My Thoughts, came in 2008, followed by This is the Life in 2011. Her latest CD, I Came to Love, was released in October and she was busy promoting it when she died this week.