South African musician and dancer Pabi Cooper revealed how COVID-19 forced her to transition from wanting to become a professional soccer player to now being one of Amapiano's biggest pioneers.
"My story is kind of crazy because I don't have any musical background. I wasn't pushing any music, I started as a footballer. I just wanted to be a referee," Pabi revealed at South African Tourism's Amapiano To The World Panel in Miami on Friday (May 26). "[In] 2020 when COVID started, they suspended any sports and I was like, 'What do I do now?'" she added.
The "Dali Wam" singer rose to popularity by shooting dance videos on the road in her hometown during the lockdown. "I had a love for dancing because I used to dance at soccer games... that’s when I decided [to] just post on my Instagram. That’s when I decided to create content," Pabi said. "I had like short-term goals -- I just wanted 20K followers. [Then I asked myself], ‘What was the next goal? 100k followers,’ you know? I actually also caught COVID because my mom use to tell me to stay home and I’m like ‘No, I need to create content.’"
She continued, "That’s when TikTok was introduced. It [was] very interesting to Instagram [because] they’re like, 'How is she on the road? We’re locked in the house,' she said. That’s when I actually got a lot of traffic to my page because everybody used to be on their cell phones, on the internet, and that’s when my social media started growing. I asked myself the next question, 'What do you do next girl?’"
In 2021, Pabi released her debut hit, "ISIPHITHIPHITHI." The single went platinum, selling over 20,000 units. "It was my first time in the studio, the first time I recorded," the 22-year-old said at the panel. "I recorded my first hit song the moment I stepped into the studio and from that moment I told myself that I’m going to be consistent if this is where God wants me to be because I can not go back to football."