Tag Archives: South African music

Hail The White Zulu

Johnny Clegg

Contrary to popular opinion, Paul Simon was not the first musician to recognize the rich potential of fusing Western pop with Zulu tribal rhythms. An inquisitive young white South African musician literally and figuratively had his finger on the pulse years before the diminutive American married his quirky songs with township jive on what was to become his and one of the 1980s’ strongest-selling albums.

While still in his early teens, Johnny Clegg, who passed away on July 16, started exploring Zulu music on the streets of Johannesburg — defying the iniquitous and racist apartheid doctrine into the bargain — when the seminal Graceland album was nary a glint in Rhymin’ Simon’s eye.

Clegg went on to become a professor of anthropology and one of South Africa’s highest-selling and best-known international artists, with six million album sales to his credit. When I interviewed him for Australia’s Rhythms magazine back in 2012, the Grammy Award winner recalled with some clarity what initially attracted him to indigenous culture and what fascinated him in particular about Zulu music.

I was 14 and I was playing Celtic folk music and listening to folk-rock bands like Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull when I discovered street guitar music.” It was Clegg’s Eureka moment. “I was quite a shy kid, but I went up to a guy who was playing and asked if he’d teach me. I saw that the guitar had been Africanised, basically reconceptualized. There was no chords, just simple notes being played in a stream of sound. In some instances, the strings had been changed around, and I realised that this was a unique genre of guitar music and I wanted to play it.” So he began to look and learn.

What was originally fascination started to take the shape of a profession when he met Zulu musician Sipho Mchunu and they became Juluka, the first prominent racially mixed South African act. “We began as a duo,” Clegg related. “Later on I started bringing Celtic and other influences into the music and found a meeting point between Zulu street guitar music and Western music, and that was the birth of this crossover band.”

Clegg and Mchunu put out their first album in 1979, long before there was a category called world music and some half-dozen years before Graceland was launched to mainstream acclaim and worldwide sales. They recorded with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, again well before Paul Simon utilized that group’s exquisite Zulu harmonies on ‘Homeless’ and ‘Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes’. “I was fluent in Zulu by then and we were singing Zulu and English on the same songs. We were mixing languages, we were mixing rhythms, styles and composition. Western music has rules of composition; it’s very linear. Zulu music is very cyclical. It was a very interesting challenge to overcome as a songwriter; it was fascinating developing solutions.”

Johnny Clegg and Sipho MChunu

Flying in the face of apartheid posed a greater challenge. “Initially, we kept our day jobs; we couldn’t make a living as a mixed race band,” Clegg asserts. He later discovered a loophole in the law. “Apartheid was only applicable to public venues. We could play at private venues, so we performed in churches, peoples’ lounges, embassies, private schools and university halls. We discovered there were pockets of platforms that we could use. When we began to play in public, that’s when we started to get closed down. It was really a kind of balancing act between those. There weren’t enough security police to monitor what we were doing, so as long as you weren’t playing the main centres, you managed to get a bunch of shows in.”

Juluka records received what was known as ‘restricted access’. “They would strike a nail through the vinyl on certain tracks,” he remembers. “There were four levels of censorship on radio: sexual, religious, racial and cultural.”  Although their debut album, Universal Men, received little to no air play on state-owned radio, it became a word-of-mouth hit. Juluka were able to tour in Europe, where they earned international platinum and gold sales for albums such as 1982’s Scatterlings of Africa and 1984’s Stand Your Ground.

Scatterlings is the song that got me on to the world platform,” Clegg conceded. “It’s the song that launched my musical career actually because by the fourth album I was teaching anthropology at university. When that song became a hit, I said to the head of the department: ‘See ya — I’m off’. I left after it went to number one in France, Belgium and Switzerland. It’s a song that’s worked very hard for me. It’s given me openings in two different bands to secure music as a way of life.” ‘Scatterlings’ was also significant on another level. “The song’s sentiments are about Africa being the birthplace of all mankind and that from Africa humans scattered to the rest of the world. What it’s really saying is that everybody is significant, not just us. The first humans left Africa 170,000 years ago and populated the planet.”

Despite his high-standing overseas, Clegg received short shrift from the South African government. He was arrested several times, initially as a 15-year-old back in the late ‘60s for entering a black area without permission. “But I wasn’t political,” he insisted. “I was musical. Juluka wasn’t really a political band. We were a cultural activist band. You were dealing with a far more basic issue — the right to sing another man’s language, the right to share another man’s culture in a country that forced cultural segregation. It’s a very complex issue this. South Africa was racially and culturally segregated. The regime didn’t want blacks to unite, so there was a divide and rule policy at a cultural level. Mixing languages was taboo. We mixed languages and we mixed music and we mixed dance and we mixed all these things.”

Savuka, which Clegg formed after Juluka was disbanded in 1986 when Mchunu left, was the band that in Clegg’s words “became political, more outspoken and clearly articulated”. Following the release of Savuka’s hard-hitting debut album Third World Child in 1987, its leader and other band members were arrested several times. Savuka concerts were routinely broken up and some of Clegg’s songs, such as ‘Asimbonanga’, which called for the release of Nelson Mandela, were banned by the regime. [In later years, the singer got to share stages with Mandela during a series of AIDS Awareness concerts, something he lists among his most cherished memories].

For several weeks in the 1980s, Third World Child and the follow-up album, Shadow Man, dominated the French charts. The band was so successful that Michael Jackson allegedly had to cancel a show in Lyon because it clashed with a Johnny Clegg and Savuka gig. Amusingly, a newspaper headline in France read: ‘WHITE MAN SINGING BLACK MUSIC OUT SELLS BLACK MAN SINGING WHITE MUSIC’. Clegg was at a loss to explain his huge following in France, where he is known as Le Zoulou Blanc (The White Zulu) and where in 1991 he was awarded a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the French Government, other than to point out that the French are very open to music from other countries. “At that time on French radio you heard every kind of music imaginable. They are very culturally sophisticated and aware.”

2011 marked Clegg’s 30th anniversary as a professional musician and he celebrated the milestone in style. “I got Juluka and Savuka back together and all the people I could muster for three shows. We did a Johnny and Sipho duo set, then we did Juluka, then we did Savuka. The show in Capetown was brilliant.”

Clegg said his career had been something of a blur. “I toured between four and six months every year. In the early days, I did nine months touring for years and years.” He stopped performing in 1993. “I went through a personal crisis with my marriage; one of the issues we discovered was my extensive touring. I was spending too much time away from home and my wife gave me an ultimatum. We had an agreement that my touring would be limited.” While admitting that affected his profile and album sales at a time when the world spotlight moved away from South Africa, he took comfort from the fact that Juluka and Savuka were secure internationally. “I lived off the goodwill of those fans that followed me in the ‘80s.”

Close to 60 when I talked to him, Clegg senior said he kept fit for the energetic Zulu dancing that became an integral part of his live shows by doing plenty of cardiovascular work and weights and most importantly, he stressed, “stretching for suppleness”. While he didn’t lecture at university any more, he still utilised his academic expertise. “My shows are accompanied with explanations, anecdotes and stories about the songs, which people like to hear. It adds a bit of layering to the songs.” Clegg spoke with authority. In what was perhaps a veiled reference to Paul Simon, he said: “I come from inside the tradition. I play Zulu concertina. I play Zulu guitar. I play maskanda music, I grew up in the tradition. I’m not raiding some foreign cultural entity and then constructing something out of it, I’m writing from inside the tradition.”

Johnny Clegg, whose Zulu name (‘Madabe’) translates to ‘Big Ears’, told me his career had been a great journey. “The thing for me is having a dedicated group of fans over the years who’ve brought their kids to my shows. The key is to have people that want to grow with you as an artist. In the end, it’s about the connection with an audience and maintaining that connection.”

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Pioneering South African Musician Johnny Clegg Dies at 66

Johnny Clegg

Johnny Clegg, a singer-songwriter and guitarist known for mixing Zulu music with Western influences, died on July 16, 2019 at his family home in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Clegg founded two highly influential interracial bands, Juluka with Sipho Mchunu and Savuka with Dudu Zulu.

Ms Beauty Dlulane, Chairperson of the the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture at the South African Parliament stated: “Not too many people would have taken the stance Johnny took at the height of racial divisions in the country. He identified with the popular struggle for the emancipation of black people and with the values of a free society.”

“He also made an immeasurable contribution in the arts. We will certainly miss ‘the white Zulu’. The committee wishes that his spirit will live long among many in society,” Ms Dlulane said.

Johnny Clegg

Johnny leaves deep foot prints in the hearts of every person that considers him/herself to be an African,” said Roddy Quin, Manager, friend and family spokesman. “He showed us what it was to assimilate to and embrace other cultures without losing your identity. An anthropologist that used his music to speak to every person. With his unique style of music he traversed cultural barriers like few others. In many of us he awakened awareness. “

For more information, read Johnny Clegg’s artist profile.

Johnny Clegg’s family asked that donations be made to Adopt a Future Foundation instead of sending or laying flowers.

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Artist Profiles: Madala Kunene

Madala Kunene

Madala Kunene was born in 1951 in Cato Manor, moving to the township of Kwa-Mashu, near Durban after his family were evicted by the Apartheid government. Despite being born into a family of eminent and fervent academics he refused to spend so much as a day at school- even if it meant taking regular beatings because of it. This signaled Madala’s single-minded and uniquely unconventional nature.

He started busking on Durban’s beachfront at the age of 7, making his first guitar out of a cooking oil tin and fish gut for the strings! He soon became a popular performer in the townships. “I started music when I was a boy at Umkhubane (Cato Manor) at Jippercoat Station. We were called ‘Amanikabheni,’ a name given to us because we would perform in open spaces and then be given pennies by the thrilled crowds“.

As a player for the African Wanderers FC, the teenage Madala was torn between his love of football and music, playing guitar at home after matches. In 1963, he bought his first real guitar and began to imitate Western music such as the Beatles. But Madala soon tired of imitating others and feeling dissatisfied and restless, decided to start playing his own music giving voice to the creativity that was welling up within him.

It was friends such as the great Sandile Shange, who encouraged him to take his guitar playing much more seriously. He followed their wise advice and in the early seventies started to perform as a professional artist in the Durban townships, playing in variety of styles.In very little time he had become the hottest guitar player and was discovered by Sipho Gumede.

Madala went to work in Johannesburg, where he considered himself privileged to share the stage with such luminaries as Doc Mthalane and his band, Songamasu, Shor Philips, Mankunku Hgozi and Busi Mhlongo. However, in the mid – 1970’s, violence erupted in rural areas. This led to Madala returning home to protect his family after their house was burned down. Deprived of the chance to tour internationally, Madala continued to develop his own musical style while playing low-key gigs in the townships during the mid-eighties.

Encouraged by his friend Duze Mahlobo, he revived the ‘Madalaine’ style of guitar playing, combining blues &soul with African folk, and developing the trance – like quality of his Zulu folk singing. A guitarist on great albums by the likes of Sipho Gumede and Mandla Masuka, Madala’s career has been, in his own words, “both exciting and rough”, since he went solo in 1988. One such example Madala remembers: “I was rehearsing at a friend’s house and the police came in and said we were making noise. They took all our instruments and smashed them. It took me a long time to find the money to get another guitar.

Despite the hardship he persevered and in 1990 teamed up with the dance troupe, Woza Afrika, where he wrote, sang and played guitar. In 1993 B+W (later M.E.L.T. 2000) gave him his recording break: he was on Freedom Countdown produced by Sipho Gumede.

In 1994 Madala took part in the Outernational Meltdown jams with Airto Moreira that culminated in his part of the Healer’s Brew (BW077). His traditionally deep-rooted guitar style is captured on the first in the bootleg net series, -King of the Zulu, Live Vol. 1. (BNETCD001).

Of contemporary music Madala says, “I like the fact that I am doing African music, even though here at home promoters are not that interested in traditional music. They are only into commercial music.”

Despite the pressures to copy Western music Madala refused to give in to commercial whim, “I was tired of trying to sound like other people. I wanted to be myself, to play the kind of music that came from within me.” So he draws his influences from Zulu folklore and culture. With wit and clarity he relates the traditional Zulu folk tales we would otherwise forget.

A proud Zulu and advocate of traditional Zulu music and folklore-Madala’s first solo album for M.E.L.T. 2000 was Kon’ko Man (BW058) meaning ‘the Strong Man’. Made in 1995 and produced by Pops Mohammed and Airto Moreira, this album features many of his old friends, including Londoner Zena Edwards, Sipho Gumede, Mabi Thobejane, Busi Mhlongo, Mandla Mgabhi and Mandla Masuk, Jose Neto and Flora Purim, to mention but a few.

Following this debut solo album, he joined forces with Swiss guitarist Max Lasser for the album ‘Madamax’. There was an incredible creative affinity between the two and through the development of this project they made a profound musical connection between Africa and Europe. As Madala says, “I first met Max at a studio in Johannesburg in 1995, because of a session that Robert had organized. We sat together the whole night. I just took the guitar and played and everybody sang along.” It was not yet obvious something big was going to come of it, “I was not expecting that this music would be released on CD. We were just playing together. We finished the session, and since that day we have been great friends, as if we’d known each other 20 years. I liked his heart – he was a fine man.”

After their initial sessions in South Africa, Max invited Madala to Switzerland to continue arranging the music, and to write some more songs. This collaboration was such a buzz that Madala and Max decided to take their unique sound on tour, a resounding success that also highlighted the unique vocal talents of Lungiswa Plaatjies. This tour has been a resounding success throughout Europe both in 1999 and 2000. Performing to audiences around the world, and sharing the stage with the likes of the inimitable Busi Mhlongo, Madala’s repertoire includes playing for Nelson Mandela at the show held in honour of his release. When they met again at another benefit show in Durban Mandela smiled and said, “It’s you again. I wish you could play for me everywhere I go”.

Madala Kunene performs to audiences around the world and often shares the stage with great names such as the inimitable -Busi Mhlongo. This repertoire includes playing for Nelson Mandela at the show held in honor of his release.

Madala has developed a completely original style of playing guitar based on ancient divination music and most of his inspiration comes to him in dreams. He explains the influence his poetic dreams have on his song writing relating the inspiration for ‘Abangoma’ on ‘K’onko Man’. “You know when you get a fright in your sleep and you body shakes and then you suddenly wake up? That’s what happened with Abangoma. I must have been inspired by my ancestors because I just got up, picked up my guitar and wrote the entire song”. Madala is profoundly connected to his ancestry, “It was my ancestors that didn’t want me to go to school. They gave me a talent so that instead of school, I played my music”.

It is somewhat ironic that Madala is now a teacher himself, sharing his musical skills with children and juvenile offenders in KwaZulu-Natal.Known as the “King of Zulu guitar”, Kunene is renowned for the transcendental and ethereal quality of his songs. Whilst performing he goes into a deep trance, and as he himself says, “When I am playing my brain is not there. Each time I go to a place I’ve never been before.”

Discography:

Healer’s Brew (B&W Music, 1995)
King Of The Zulu Guitar Live Vol 1 (Bootleg.Net, 1996)
Kon’Ko Man (B&W Music, 1996)
Madamax (Impact Music, 1998)
Uxolo ‎(M.E.L.T. 2000, 2005)
1959 (2017)

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Artist Profiles: Mahotella Queens

Mahotella Queens

The Mahotella Queens, Hilda Tloubatla, Mildred Mangxola, and Nobesethu Mbadu, are part of the legend of urban South African music known as mbaquanga. In the early 1960s, they helped the legendary Simon Nkabindé Mahlathini (the “Lion of Soweto”) and the Makgona Tsothle Band create mbaqanga, a fusion of traditional South African tribal music (Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan and Xhosa) with marabi (South African jazz), blues, soul, and gospel.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens played halls and township dances in South Africa. Their original sound was named the “indestructible beat of Soweto,” and their rhythmic dance music and soaring vocal harmonies embodied the spirit of the oppressed peoples of the townships. The group took a break in the mid-1970’s to raise families, but reunited with Malathini in 1987 for a successful tour of Europe and United States.

Following the tragic death of Mahlathini and the dissolution of the Makagona Tsothle Band in 1999, the Mahotella Queens struck out on their own with a national tour and released a recording entitled Sebai Bai. In 2000, they received the second annual WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo) Award, presented for outstanding contribution to world music.

Discography:

Marks Umthakathi (Gumba Gumba, 1972)
Umgqashiyo (Gumba Gumba, 1973)
Thatha Izimpahla Zakho (Igagasi, 1980)
Tsamaya Moratuoa (Gumba Gumba, 1980)
Mosese O Mosweu (Igagasi, 1982)
Ezesimanje (Hit Special, 1982)
Pitša Tše Kgolo (Hit Special, 1982)
Tse Hlwahlwa Tsa (Gumba Gumba, 1983)
Igagasi (IAL, 1983)
Khwatha O Mone (Hit Special, 1984)
Thokozile (Gallo Recording Company, 1987)
Menate Ea Lefatse (Black Music, 1987)
Melodi Yalla (Gallo Record Company, 1988)
Marriage Is A Problem (Shanachie, 1991)
Women Of The World (Gallo Record Company, 1993)
Sebai Bai (Indigo, 2000)
Bazobuya (Gallo Record Company, 2004)
Kazet (Marabi Productions, 2005)
Reign & Shine (Wrasse Records, 2006)
Siyadumisa – Songs of Praise (Bula Music, 2007)

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Artist Profiles: Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba was one of the world’s musical treasures, having gained international renown as a recording and performing artist and an important figure in the human rights movements in Africa and beyond. She was forced to spend most of her career away from her homeland after an impassioned anti-apartheid speech before the United Nations in 1963.

Miriam Makeba, whose real name was Zenzile Makeba, was born in Johannesburg on March 4, 1932. She started to sing at a young age, in her church and school choirs, and during other occasions. Her older brother had a jazz collection that she really enjoyed, specially singers like Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald.

She never had the intention of becoming a professional singer until one of her cousins asked her to join his band, the Cuban Brothers.

Makeba became one of the biggest stars of South African jazz in the 1950s. Swing, rhythm and blues and big band jazz had taken South Africa by storm, resulting in a powerful jazz movement that served as the foundation for much of South Africa’s popular music. In their attempts to interpret the music they heard on records from America, township musicians incorporated their own influences, resulting in a bouncy, original style that came to be known as Marabi.

Makeba first gained notice in 1954 as a featured vocalist for the Manhattan Brothers, one of the most popular male vocal quartets. She soon left to form the Skylarks, an all-female vocal group and toured South Africa as part of an influential variety show. Her big break came in 1959, when she took on the female lead of the hit musical King Kong. Just as she was becoming a household name at home, Makeba left for the US, performing with Harry Belafonte and others. Her song “Pata Pata” was an international success in 1967, becoming the first African song to reach the United State’s Top 10 pop charts.

Makeba’s dedication to human rights and political justice earned her great honors and recognition as a humanitarian leader throughout the world. Makeba was allowed to return to South Africa in 1990, and was embraced by Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the anti-apartheid movement for her struggles in exile.

She was honored many times, most notably the Grammy Award for best folk recording in 1965, and the Dag Hammarskjold Peace Prize in 1986.

Her records include the following: ‘An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba’, RCA, 1965; ‘Pata Pata’ (single), 1967; ‘Sangoma’, Warner Bros., 1988; ‘Welela’, Polydor, 1989; ‘Eyes on Tomorrow’, Polydor, 1991; ‘Africa’, reissued, Novus, 1991; ‘Miriam Makeba Sings’, RCA; ‘The World of Miriam Makeba’, RCA; ‘Back of the Moon’, Kapp; ‘Miriam Makeba in Concert’, Reprise.

Her published works include ‘The World of African Song’, edited by Jonas Gwangwa and E. John Miller, Jr., Time Books, 1971 and ‘Makeba: My Story’ an autobiography (with James Hall), published by New American Library in 1987.

In 2004, at the South African Music Awards 10, her album Reflections won two awards: Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Adult Contemporary Album.

Miriam Makeba died November 9, 2008 in Castel Volturno, Italy.

Discography:

Miriam Makeba (RCA, 1960)
The Many Voices of Miriam Makeba (1962)
The World of Miriam Makeba (RCA, 1963)
The Voice of Africa (RCA, 1964)
Makeba Sings! (RCA, 1965)
An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba (RCA, 1965)
The Magic of Makeba (RCA, 1965)
The Magnificent Miriam Makeba (Mercury, 1966)
All About Miriam (Mercury, 1966)
Pata Pata (Reprise, 1967)
Makeba! (Reprise, 1968)
Keep Me in Mind (Reprise, 1970)
A Promise (RCA, 1974)
Miriam Makeba & Bongi (1975)
Country Girl (Sonodisc, 1978)
Comme une symphonie d’amour (Sonodisc, 1979)
Sangoma (Warner Bros. Records, 1988)
Welela (Gallo Record Company, 1989)
Eyes on Tomorrow (Gallo Record Company, 1991)
Sing Me a Song (1993)
Homeland (Putumayo, 2000)
Reflections (Gallo Record Company, 2004)
Forever (Gallo Record Company, 2006), compilation

Anthologies:

Her Essential Recordings: The Empress of African Song, 2 CDs (Manteca, 2006)
The Sound Of Africa, 3 CDs (Not Now Music, 2013)
Indispensable 1955-1962, 3 CDs (Fremeaux & Associes, 2015)
Original Album Classics, 5 CDs (Sony Music Canada, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Mzwakhe Mbuli

One of the most popular artists in South Africa, Mzwakhe Mbuli is known as the People’s Poet; the voice of the voiceless, the poor and the dispossessed on the edges of society. His concerns are human rights, fighting corruption, drugs and AIDS, building a better future and reminding his audience about African history and tradition.

Discography:

Change is Pain (Shifty Records/Rounder Records, 1986)
Unbroken Spirit (Shifty Records, 1988)
Resistance is Defence (Stern’s Earthworks, 1992)
Afrika (CCP/EMI South Africa, 1993)
Izigi (CCP/EMI South Africa, 1994)
KwaZulu-Natal (CCP/EMI South Africa, 1996)
Umzwakhe Ubongu Ujehovah (CCP/EMI South Africa, 1997)
Mbulism (CCP/EMI South Africa, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Shikisha

Shikisha – Photo by Michael G. Spafford

Shikisha included four South African women who performed traditional Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa and Shangaan dances, chants and drumming plus exhilarating street dances, and original songs set to township music.

Shikisha’s performances started with traditional drumming and chants, reflecting ceremonies and day-to-day events of tribal life, including birth, circumcision, war and marriage.

‘The Miners’ Gumboot Dance’ is a hybrid dance, developed from the different tribal traditions among the gold miners of Johannesburg, South Africa. This energetic and amusing dance form, crosses all language barriers within the miners. These miners are confined in the compounds without any entertainment provided, so they gather every Sunday to release frustration by entertaining themselves.

Shikisha from the Zulu word ‘Belt it out, included:

Julia Mathunjwa, born in Durban-Sout Africa. When she was in School, she trained as a model. In 1973 she joined a production Umabatha (the Zulu version of Macbeth). Later she toured in Europe with the ” Black and White is a Beautiful Show “. 1974 she joined Ipi Tombi and when the show came to London she decided to make it her home. She continued to work in West End theaters until she decided to found Shikisha in 1981.

Thokozile Nogabe and Sindisiwe Shange, two South African artists, joined Shikisha in 1991 and were trained by Julia Mathunjwa. They both performed in ‘Sarafina‘ a South African musical that won an award in Broadway in 1990.

Discography:

Belt It Out! (John Francis Production, 1996)
Jive Shikisha! (Westside, 1998)

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Artist Profiles: Shiyani Ngcobo

Shiyani Ngcobo

Shiyani Ngcobo was born in 1953 in Umzinto, on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast. Shiyani Ngcobo was a maskanda (Zulu folk music) musician for more than thirty years.

The winner of numerous maskanda awards, his use of a mixture of the rhythmic patterns associated with its different styles earned him a reputation in South Africa as a maskanda maestro.

Shiyani Ngcobo died February 18, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.

Discography:

Introducing Shiyani Ngcobo (World Music Network, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Sipho MChunu

Sipho MChunu with Johnny Clegg

Sipho MChunu Sipho co-founded Juluka with Johnny Clegg in the mid-1970’s. Originally a migrant laborer with a sound traditional music and dance background, Sipho taught Clegg much of the Zulu guitar he plays today. Sipho wrote and co-wrote many of the Juluka hits in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sipho is well-known in South Africa and especially amongst the Zulu-speakers in Natal. He is a shining example of what can be achieved by someone coming from the rural community and is something of a standard-bearer for his People.

When Juluka split in the mid-1980s, Sipho went back to his farm in Kwa-Zulu and while taking care of the affairs of his house and village, recorded and toured with his own band, Amabhubesi (“The Lions”).

When his schedule allows, he gives lectures on traditional Zulu guitar styles at the University Of Natal and adjudicates in competitions for up-and-coming talent in the area. Sipho reformed Juluka with Johnny in 1996 and co-wrote and recorded Ya Vuka Inkunzi (Crocodile Love).

Sipho lives on his farm in Natal with his wives and children and commutes to Johannesburg for rehearsals, recordings, video shoots and other activities.

Discography:

Universal Men (CBS, 1979)
African Litany (MINC, 1981)
Ubuhle Bemvelo (MINC, 1982)
Scatterlings (MINC, 1982)
Work For All (MINC, 1983)
Stand Your Ground (Warner Bros. Records, 1984)
Musa Ukungilandela (MINC, 1984)
Juluka Live (The Good Hope Concerts) MINC, 1986)
Yithi Esavimba (Totem Records, 1989)
Crocodile Love (CNR Music, 1997)

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