South African singer Tyla’s parents didn’t want her to pursue music but are now her biggest supporters. Details about her family explored.
Gaining notoriety in 2023 after being active since 2019, the musician best known for her hit song “Water” has become a household name in her home country and also an internet sensation.
The Grammy nominee is set to release her self-titled debut album coming March 1, 2024.
Since Tyla’s mainstream success seemingly came overnight, many are curious to know more about her family; especially her parents, their origin, and whether she has any siblings. Keep reading for more about the SA’s hottest artist.
Who are Tyla’s parents?
Singer and internet sensation Tyla (real name: Tyla Laura Seethal) was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 30, 2002.
The names of her parents are Sharleen Seethal (mother) and Sherwin Seethal (father).
Tyla, who has not been new to social media recounts first using her father’s cell phone to get online to create accounts on various platforms. “I grew up on social media, like maybe at age 12 or 13 I would borrow my father’s phone to make social media accounts. I wasn’t supposed to be on it at that age but I just fell in love with pictures and making videos and musical.ly.”
While Tyla hasn’t discussed many details about her mother and father, the “Getting Late” singer has shared how her parents felt about her focusing on her music full-time. In a Nov. 28 interview with Power 106’s Justin Credible, Tyla said her parents didn’t support her being in the studio instead of getting a “real” job.
“So, I had to literally cry every day and tell them that I wanna do this. There’s nothing else I wanna do,” Tyla said of her parents. “It was difficult convincing them.”
Eventually, Tyla’s mom and dad allowed her to put her all into music. And, despite the rumblings about her ethnicity, the singer is glad she didn’t let her parents deter her and knows they had her best interests at heart.
“When I finished school my parents asked me what I’m going to study and I told them immediately I want to go into music,” she says.
“In South Africa, it doesn’t happen to us,” Tyla said of her success. “I’ve heard so many women who wanted to do music and didn’t end up the way they wanted to. So, my parents were just trying to protect me, which is fine, but I showed them that I want to do music by all means.”
“After a lot of convincing they allowed me to do just that.”
What is Tyla’s ethnicity?
Tyla’s identification of her ethnicity ruffled a few feathers on social media.
According to Sony Music UK, the singer comes from a “multiracial family,” her ethnicities include “Indian, Zulu, and Irish blood, to name a few.”
“I’m very passionate about my country, our culture and music; I really believe in it,” she told i-D in July.
While Tyla has ties to multiple ethnicities, in November 2023, a report from Blavity News stated that Tyla identifies as “coloured” and not Black.
“I feel bad for Tyla,” one fan shared on social media, obtained by @lilloworldwide on TikTok. “Americans are just going to ignore the fact that she’s not Black and continue to call her Black, no matter how many times she corrects them.”
I didn’t know we were bothering Tyla…♬ Water – Tyla
Although Tyla says she comes from a multiracial family, it’s unclear which parent is responsible for which piece of her ethnic background.
Tyla’s reported self-identification sparked plenty of social media discourse. Many Black Americans were offended by the word “coloured,” as the term has historically been used as a racial slur dating back to the Jim Crow era of the 1950s.
However, Brittanica states that “coloured” has a different meaning in South Africa. According to the resource, coloured in South Africa means “a person of mixed European (“white”) and African (“Black”) or Asian ancestry,” or a mixed race person.
The difference shook many TikTok users on both sides of the African diaspora. Several Black Americans, like @bigbrolgnd, explained on TikTok that, while Tyla herself doesn’t identify as Black, the “one drop rule” for anyone of African ancestry states that she will receive the same treatment as someone Black in America.
But many South African creators say their version of coloured, which the South African government officially defined from 1950-1991, is also valid to their culture.
Does Tyla have any siblings?
Yes, South African hitmaker Tyla is not an only child to her parents. The 21-year-old is the middle child of five.
She has an older sister named Whitney Seethal, a younger brother named Tyrese Seethal, and a younger sister named Sydney Seethal.
Her nephew and cousin have appeared on her TikTok account.
She and her sister have a YouTube channel called Sydney and Tyla.
She is the first of her family to attain this height as the rest of her family live a private life.
She made history with “Water.”
Tyla, who signed to Epic Records in 2021, released “Water” as the lead single from her upcoming debut album in July.
The song went viral on TikTok the following month when Tyla posted videos of herself dancing to it choreographed by South African dancer Lee-ché Janecke.
“Water” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 67 in early October, becoming the first solo song by a South African musician to appear on the chart since Hugh Masekela’s “Grazing in the Grass” in 1968.
“I’m a South African girl born and raised in Johannesburg. This is crazy,” Tyla tweeted on Monday night.
The Amapiano musician’s song inspired the viral water dance challenge on TikTok, resulting in it being used more than 500,000 times in videos posted on the app.
Amapiano is a South African style of electronic dance music.
The Billboard Hot 100 is the most popular music ranking chart in the US, published each week by Billboard magazine.
Water has already broken several other records on Spotify and YouTube.
She cites Aaliyah and Rihanna as influences and wants a collaboration with Drake.
“I really looked up to ’90s singers like Aaliyah, also Rihanna and Cassie. They were artists whose concerts I watched constantly and imagined myself being one day,” Tyla told Rolling Stone in September.
Tyla said her sound has also been influenced by “a lot of South African artists.”
“I loved Freshlyground because I couldn’t believe they were on a song — ‘Waka Waka’ — with Shakira,” she said.
In her interview with i-D, Tyla listed Drake and Doja Cat as her bucket list collaborations.
“Her father’s South African so she can’t say no,” she said of Doja.
Tyla also said she’d love to one day work with DJ Khaled.
“I’d love him to scream on one of my songs,” she said.