Kelly Khumalo Biography

Kelly Nonhlanhla Khumalo (born 11 November 1984) is a South African singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. She was born in Vosloorus and later moved to Nquthu, KwaZulu-Natal, where she grew up.

Kelly was discovered while performing at a gospel talent search and signed a record deal with Bonsai Entertainment. She released her debut studio album T.K.O in 2005 and shot to fame after its release. She was named the Best Newcomer of 2005 in the Afro Pop music circuit. Her album The Past, The Present, The Future was released on 5 November 2012 and in May 2013, she won an award at the 19th South African Music Awards.

Kelly’s ninth album The Voice of Africa was released in 2020 and incorporated elements of R&B, gospel, and Afro pop. The album was certified gold in South Africa.

Life and Career

Kelly Khumalo was born in Katlehong and moved to KwaZulu-Natal. She relocated to Gauteng in 1997.

T.K.O (2005) and Itshitshi (2006)

Kelly’s debut solo album T.K.O was released on 19 August 2005 in South Africa and earned her two nominations at the 2006 South African Music Awards: Song of the Year and Best Afro Pop Album.

On September 27, 2006, her second studio album Itshitshi was released.

The Past, The Present, The Future (2012), Back to My Roots (2014), My Truth (2016), Unleashed (2018)

On November 5, 2012, Kelly’s album The Past, The Present, The Future was released in South Africa. At the 19th SAMA awards in 2013, her album won the Best Female Artist of the Year award.

In October 2014, Kelly’s single “Asine” was released and nominated for Song of The Year at the Metro FM Awards in 2015. Her album Back to my Roots was nominated for Best African Pop Album and Best African Adult Album at the South African Music Awards XXXI in 2015.

Kelly began recording her seventh studio album in March 2016. On October 28, 2016, her seventh studio album My Truth was released. My Truth won Best Female Album at the 2017 Metro FM Awards.

In January 2018, Kelly began working on her eighth studio album and released its lead single “Jehovah” on July 9th, featuring J F.L.O. On October 9th, she announced her second single “Dance Comigo” on Instagram which was released on October 12th.

On November 5th, Kelly’s album Unleashed was released in South Africa. The album was produced by Mondli Ngcobo.

The Voice of Africa (2020), Gospel Explosion Concert (2022), From A God To A King (2022)

In August of 2020, Kelly’s single “Empini” was released as the lead single for her ninth studio album. The song was certified gold by the Recording Industry of South Africa with sales of over 80,000 units and garnered over twelve million views on YouTube. Her ninth studio album The Voice of Africa was released on October 9th and production was handled by Mondli Ngcobo. The Voice of Africa was certified gold with sales of over twenty-five thousand units in South Africa. At the sixth ceremony of All Africa Music Awards, Kelly’s single “Empini” received a nomination for Best Female Artist in South Africa.

Her song “Esiphambaweni,” featuring South African singer Hlengiwe Mhlaba peaked at number one on the gospel charts. At the twenty-seventh South African Music Awards, The Voice of Africa received a nomination for Best Afro-pop Album.

In November of 2021, Kelly recorded a live version of The Voice of Africa.

In April of 2022, Kelly performed at her first annual Gospel Explosion Concert which included two dates: April fifteenth and sixteenth held at the Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg. On April twenty-eighth following the success of these two dates she added one more date that was held at Vaal on May twenty-eighth.

In late August of that year Kelly announced her From A God To A King tour scheduled to start off on Saturday September seventeenth at Carnival City Boksburg. She also announced her tenth album From A God To A King.

“Bazokhuluma,” featuring Zakwe and Mthunzi was released on November fourth as the lead single for her tenth studio album.


On 26 October 2014, Kelly’s boyfriend Senzo Meyiwa, captain of the South Africa men’s national football team and club side Orlando Pirates with whom she has a child, was shot dead in her presence at her family’s home in Vosloorus. It is alleged that the killer is known to Kelly and everyone present at the shooting but she has remained silent on who the killer is.

In October 2020, five men were charged with murdering Meyiwa. The suspects denied that they were involved in the killing. It was also found that Kelly was communicating with one of the suspects through cellphone before and after Senzo Meyiwa’s death.

Personal Life

In 2012, Kelly spoke out about having been in an abusive relationship and became an advocate against domestic violence. The singer confessed to being a drug addict for at least two years during her relationship with singer Molemo Maarohanye and attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings.


Kelly has released several studio albums throughout her career:

  • TKO (2005)
  • Itshitshi (2006)
  • Siyajabula (2007)
  • Simply Kelly (2008)
  • The Past, The Present, The Future (2012)
  • Back to My Roots (2014)
  • My Truth (2017)
  • Unleashed (2018)
  • The Voice Of Africa (2020)
  • From A God To A King (2023)

As a lead artist, Kelly has released several singles including “Undithatha Kancani” (2019), “Empini” (2020), “Esiphambanweni” featuring Hlengiwe Mhlaba (2020), and “Ngathwala Ngaye” featuring Mondli Ngcobo (2021).


Kelly has appeared in several television shows and films throughout her career including Zulu Wedding (2017), uSkroef No Sexy: In Kgantse And Kenny’s Paradise, Life with Kelly Khumalo (2021), Stand Up South Africa as Judge, Idols South Africa as Guest Judge, and Rhythm City as Sunay.

Awards and Nominations

Kelly has received several awards and nominations throughout her career. In 2013 she won the Best Female Artist award at the SAMA awards. In 2015 she received nominations for Song of the Year and Best Afro Pop album at the fourteenth Metro FM Awards.

In 2019 she received nominations for Female Artist of the Year and Best Afro Pop Album at the twenty-fifth SAMA awards. In 2020 she received a nomination for Best Female Artist of the Year at the first KZNEA awards.

In 2021 she received nominations for Best Afro pop Album and Record of the Year at the twenty-seventh SAMA awards as well as Songwriter of the Year, Best Female Artist in African Inspirational Music, and Best Female Artist in South Africa at the All Africa Music Awards. In 2023 she won Afro Pop Artist of the Year at the Basadi in Music Awards.

By Shamiso Miracle

Shamiso Miracle completed her degree in journalism and media studies at the University of Zimbabwe before honing her skills at Savanna News. She then went on to work at iHarare News, becoming a voice for everyday SA citizens who wanted to share their stories. When she's not writing news that entertains and inspires ,Shamiso is an avid reader and a wellness bunny.

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