Born Yvonne Ntombizodwa Machaka in Dobsonville, Soweto in 1965, Yvonne Chaka Chaka is a daughter of Puti and Sophie Machaka and one of three girls.
Her sisters are Doreen and Refiloe Machaka. Yvonne studied Adult Education and also Local Government Management at the University of South Africa. She also studied Speech and Drama at the Trinity College in London and graduated with a Diploma in 1997.
As a young performer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka happened to have been the first black child to have made an appearance on South African television, in 1981. She was discovered by Phil Hollis of Dephon Records in 1985 when she was just nineteen years old and later earned herself the appellation of ‘the Princess of Africa.’ From this moment on, she had consistently developed her creative capabilities and expanded her media portfolio to include musician, record producer, talk radio and television shows, and acting in several South African television dramas. Chaka Chaka, in 2009, went ahead to shoot her debut feature film, Foreign Demos, in which she plays the character of Josephine, a lead role. Yvonne has been noted to share the stage with, and performed for leading lights like President Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth I I, Richard Branson, Bono, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey. Yvonne Chaka Chaka is acknowledged as a word-class performer defined by originality, creativity, and consummate showmanship. Music has taken her to different parts of the African continent and all over the world as the demand for her music intensified. During her many performances, one of her backing vocalists, Phumzile Ntuli, contracted Malaria in Gabon in 2004 and later died. Touched by this tragedy, Chaka Chaka later became a Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Roll Back Malaria Partnership.
In 2006, she started her foundation called Princess of Africa (a name she received after a 1990 tour in Uganda), which focuses on championing the change in health and education for communities across Africa. Chaka Chaka is the brainchild of Backing Vocalists and Session Musicians Awards. Chaka Chaka has since travelled the world advocating for social justice, education and economic empowerment for women and girls. She is the first African female recipient of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Crystal Award. Chaka Chaka has also been chosen as the 100 World Class South African and was voted the 8th most powerful musician by Forbes magazine and also voted among the World’s 100 most influential women by Women Deliver.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka served as the first Ambassador for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Campaign which raises global awareness of HIV/AIDS and serves as the Honorary Colonel in the South African Air Force. 2017 marked a milestone for Chaka Chaka. In March she received the Crans Montana Forum’s Gold Medal in Morocco, in recognition of her role within the UN for Africa on issues affecting women and children and her fight against diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. In June Chaka Chaka was honored with the 2017 Black Entertainment Television (BET) International Global Good Power Award for her humanitarian work.
After all these years Chaka Chaka still finds time to record music for her fans and supporters. In her own words this is what she says “Music is love, music is a rainbow, it has no colour. Thank you for holding my hand and enjoy my music. KEEP LOOKING AT ME.”