Artist Profiles: Lucky Dube

Lucky Dube

While successful reggae artists have traditionally hailed from the Island of Jamaica, over the decades of the 1980s and 1990s South African native Lucky Dube (pronounced doobay) delivered some of the most conscious and substantive roots reggae songs to hit the airwaves.

Dube became the best-selling artist in all of Africa during the 1980s and ’90s, and gained popularity in North America, the Caribbean and Europe.

His mother named him Lucky because he was born in poor health, but he survived. Although he began as an mbaqanga (traditional Zulu) music singer, Lucky Dube’s career boomed in 1987 when his third album, Slave, was released and let off massive hit singles: “Slave,” “I’ve Got You Babe,” and “Back to My Roots,” which led to a record breaking sold out performance in Johannesburg of over 50,000 people.

His 1989 album Prisoner sold over 100, 000 copies worldwide. His platinum double live album Captured Live outsold any international music. Since then Lucky and his band, Slave, performed all over the world. He was the first South African to perform at Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash (1991) and was called for a 25-minute encore! To date, Trinity (1995), with hit songs such as “Feel Irie,” “Trinity,” “Serious Reggae Business,” and “Puppet Master,” is one of his most requested albums and was released on Motown’s Tabu Records expanding Lucky Dube’s United States audience. He was the winner of the OKTV Award (South Africa) for Best Male Vocalist of the Year.

In 1996 Shanachie Records released Serious Reggae, featuring songs “Mr. DJ,” and an emotional cover of Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” “Prisoner,” and “Slave” to name a few. Also Shanachie Records released Taxman in 1997. His latest albums Think About The Children/Rastas Never Die (2000) and Soul Taker (2001) were released on Gallo Records (South Africa). Lucky Dube released 21 albums. His last one was Respect (2006).

Lucky Dube

When asked what inspired him, Lucky humbly noted ? ?People! Looking at people, watching people?s movements, the things they do. My songs are all based on real life situations and experiences?.

Lucky Dube was killed by gunshot in front of his son and daughter, in Johannesburg, South Africa On October 18, 2007. According to a police report, the award-winning reggae star was murdered when he was attacked by a group of carjackers.


Lengane Ngeyethu (Teal Record Company, 1981)
Kukuwe (Teal Record Company,1984)
Ngikwethembe Na? (Gallo Record Company, 1985)
Think About The Children Mercury, 1986)
Umadakeni (Celluloid Records, 1987)
Slave (Shanachie Records, 1987)
Together As One (Celluloid Records, 1988)
Prisoner (Celluloid Records, 1989)
Captured Live (Shanachie Records, 1990)
House Of Exile (Shanachie Records, 1991)
Victims (Celluloid Records, 1993)
Trinity (Tabu Records, 1995)
Taxman (Shanachie Records, 1997)
The Way It Is (Shanachie Records, 1999)
Soul Taker (Shanachie Records, 2001)
The Other Side (Heartbeat, 2003)
Respect (Gallo Record Company, 2006)
Kudala Ngikuncenga (Gallo Record Company, 2006)
Abathakathi (Gallo Record Company, 2006)
Live In Uganda (Gallo Record Company, 2007)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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