We love celebrating strong, successful women here at The Caviar Spoon, which is why we’ve created ReBelles. These are the women who are working it and owning it! Including Rozalla, Queen of Rave, in this category is a no-brainer for us.
You mention the name Rozalla and the first thing that pops into your head is most likely the super catchy 90’s dance anthem “Everybody’s Free”. And you wouldn’t be alone. After all, that’s how I remember the Queen of Rave!
When Rozalla and I first started communicating about the interview, I carefully penciled in 30 minutes, expecting that would be enough time to cover all of the questions I had prepared. What I didn’t expect was that we’d hit it off like old friends and that 30 minutes would turn into 3 hours! And then to top it off, I was invited to stick around for the Le Meridien WOW That’s What I Call Brunch event she was performing at with Chesney Hawkes.
Born in Zambia, music has been flowing through the singer’s veins for as long as she can remember. She credits her stepdad, a huge presence and influence in her life, for being the one to propel her passion forward. After he delivered a few convincing words to the Intercontinental in Zambia, the gigs started lining up. Before long, the 14-year old was belting out in clubs, at special events, even on TV!
Four years later, she moved to Zimbabwe where the next stage of her musical adventures began. Not only did she become the lead singer for several R&B cover bands in Harare, including Grab, Boykie Moore’s band, she also finally had the opportunity to meet her biological father. As it turned out, he was also a singer!
Rozalla’s music career was catching fire quickly. She signed a contract with Gramma Records, recorded her first hit and followed that up with a music video. Networking through a local radio station garnered a bit more attention and then when her song was played on the radio and TV, it was like throwing petrol onto a fire. Her hard work was paying off and now she was on an epic journey to living the dream.
It was when a UK producer from Wolverhampton saw her video that her fame went from national to international. Relocating to the UK, she sang with Band of Gypsies and in 1989, her first album Spirit of Africa was released in Zimbabwe and South Africa on cassette (remember those??). The single “Born To Love Ya” was popular in dance clubs but the real icing on the cake was when independent label Pulse 8 released “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)”. This smash hit sold over a million copies and reached number 6 on the UK Singles Chart in 1991.
Lest you think this was all just a super easy twist-of-fate kind of thing, it wasn’t! The road to becoming a singing sensation was far from smooth and it was Rozalla’s seriously hardcore work ethic that got her to where she was. Early on, she experienced the crushing feeling of being rejected by a couple of major labels that had initially expressed interested. But despite that, she hustled tirelessly—it was all for the next success.
“Of course rejection isn’t good but my God, it’s a driving force! That’s when friends and family are your true backbone.”
1991 was the Year of Rozalla. After “Everybody’s Free” hit it big, she went from small, independent labels to signing with Sony and then…she was selected to open for Michael Jackson’s Dangerous Tour! The following year found her touring 42 days over the course of 3 months with THE biggest pop star of the time who she remembers as actually being a very shy man.
This tour was no joke. It was a massive production that was akin to moving an entire village at each stop. Even the smallest stadium still held a massive 75,000 people! Rozalla will go to the grave saying that the entire tour experience was the highlight of her career.
Was it fate that MJ asked her to open his show? Nope. She’s a staunch believer in The Secret and that good things happen if you do good. Belief and drive are what got her to this successful point in her life. If you look back at the map she had laid out for herself and the thousands of baby steps she’d taken on her journey from Zambia to the worldwide Dangerous Tour, you’ll see it wasn’t luck or fate. Just pure, hard work.
The music industry is fickle, though. As quickly as she’d had hit after hit, young and hungry for success, the Hollywood blur happened. Sony dropped her, the shows dried up as boy bands took over, and the regular gigs turned into the occasional every-other-month performance.
As one point, Rozalla’s husband Alan, who she met during the peak of her fame, asked her:
“If you never had a hit again, would it be the end of the world?”
Which made her realise something truly important.
“With no friends, family, or love, you have nothing.”
Not having another hit wasn’t the be-all-end-all, and it gave her time to be with Alan. It certainly seems to have worked because they’ve been married for 19 years now and together for 22!
Rozalla welcomed in this new chapter of her life and embraced another passion of hers by becoming a beauty therapist (she qualified in 2001). And because life is funny and rewarding when you just let it happen, things have picked up since the mid-2000’s and haven’t stopped. “Everybody’s Free” remains ubiquitous as it continues to be remixed for every generation. In fact, the most recent remix of this dance anthem was released just this year!
Nowadays, she’s in a club at least once a week, still doing what she loves but never being consumed by it. It doesn’t mean she’s not enjoying the highlights of a musician’s life, though—last year she was invited to Bourbon Street in New Orleans by Chuck Robinson!
This is a woman who doesn’t stop. She’ll keep going as long as it keeps coming. Spain or wherever—you name it, she’ll gig! Despite all of this, though, she remains an incredibly humble and generous human being.
“Show others generosity. Buy someone a coffee, say thanks…just remember that the small things matter. Remain humble. Humility gets you places.”
When Rozalla isn’t hitting the stage, you can find her spending time with Alan or visiting her mother in Zimbabwe. She’s especially thrilled that Alan is winding down his work now because it means they finally have time travel together after so many hectic years. She’s also learning to play the piano and is also dabbling in acting. I asked her what kind of character she’d like to play and she came back with “Give me the messed up, intelligent female cop. Genius at their jobs but with issues!”
Rozalla is like a rose. Gorgeous to look at but it’s when you meet her that she really blooms! She is an utterly beautiful soul who keeps it real and makes you feel warm and welcome no matter who you are or how long you’ve known her. She makes a point that all human beings are equal and it won’t hurt you to be kind.
“That’s where humanity has gone wrong! We are all equal. We all need food, a bed, and enough money to pay the bills”.
And this is why we love this woman and why she’ll forever hold a place in our hearts.