South African music | Brand Nigeria

Since early colonial times, South African music changed from the blending of local ideas and forms with those imported from elsewhere, passing on the unmistakable flavour of the nation.


From the Dutch colonial era, in the 17th century on, indigenous South African people and slaves imported from your east adapted Western instruments and concepts.

The Khoi-Khoi, for instance, developed the ramkie, musical instrument with three or four strings, and put on the extender to combine Khoi and Western folk songs. Additionally they used the mamokhorong, an indigenous single-string violin, in Download latest South African music and videos 2018 own personal music-making as well as in the dances in the colonial centre, Cape Town.

Western music was played by slave orchestras, and travelling musicians of mixed-blood stock moved round the colony entertaining at dances and other functions, a convention that continued in the era of British domination after 1806.

Coloured bands of musicians began parading through the streets of Cape Town noisy . 1820s, a tradition that’s given added impetus from the travelling minstrel shows with the 1880s and has continued to the day with the minstrel carnival locked in Cape Town every New Year.

Missionaries and choirs

The penetration of missionaries into the interior within the succeeding centuries also were built with a profound influence on South African musical styles. Inside the late 1800s, early African composers like John Knox Bokwe began composing hymns that drew on traditional Xhosa harmonic patterns.

In 1897, Enoch Sontonga, a teacher, composed the hymn Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa), that has been later adopted from the liberation movement and, after 1994, became part of the national anthem of your democratic South Africa.

The influence of both missionary music and American spirituals spurred a gospel movement remains strong. Drawing on the traditions of indigenous faiths including the Zion Christian Church, it’s got exponents whose styles range from the classical for the pop-infused sounds of present-day gospel singers for example Rebecca Malope and Lundi Tyamara. Gospel, in the many forms, is one kind of South Africa’s best-selling genres, with artists regularly achieving of gold and platinum sales.

The missionary concentrate on choirs, with the traditional South African vocal music and also other elements, also gave rise to some mode of a cappella singing that blend the appearance of Western hymns with indigenous harmonies. This tradition has endured within the oldest traditional music in Africa, isicathamiya, of which Ladysmith Black Mambazo include the best-known exponents.

African instruments such as the mouth bow and, later, the mbira from Zimbabwe, and drums and xylophones from Mozambique, began to locate a place in the traditions of South African music. Still later, Western instruments like the concertina and guitar were built-into indigenous musical styles, contributing, for example, on the Zulu mode of maskhandi music.

The introduction of a black urban proletariat as well as the movement of countless black workers to the mines in the 1800s resulted in differing regional traditional folk music met and commenced to circulate into one another. Western instruments were used to adapt rural songs, which in turn did start to influence the roll-out of new hybrid modes of music-making (and also dances) within the developing urban centres.

Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds in

1941. From left, Solomon Linda (soprano),

Gilbert Madondo (alto), Boy Sibiya (tenor),

Samuel Mlangeni (bass) and Owen

Skakane (bass). The night time Birds’ 1939

hit Mbube may be reworked innumerable

times, most notably as Pete Seeger’s hit

Wimoweh and the international classic

The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

(Image: The International Library of

African Music at Rhodes University and

Veit Erlmann)


From the mid-1800s travelling minstrel shows begun to visit South Africa. In the beginning these minstrels were white performers in “black-face” but from the 1860s genuine black American minstrel troupes like Orpheus McAdoo and also the Virginia Jubilee Singers started to tour South Africa influencing locals to create similar choirs.

This minstrel tradition, put together with other types, led to the introduction of isicathamiya, which in fact had its first international hit in 1939 with Mbube by Solomon Linda as well as the Evening Birds. This remarkable song continues to be reworked innumerable times, such as as Pete Seeger’s hit Wimoweh as well as the international classic The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Minstrelsy also gave form plus a new impetus on the Cape coloured carnival singers and troupes, who begun to use instruments including the banjo in varieties of music for example the jaunty goema.


Noisy . Twentieth century, new types of hybrid music began to arise one of many increasingly urbanised black population of mining centres including Johannesburg.

Marabi, a keyboard type of music played on pedal organs, came into common use within the ghettos from the city. This new sound, basically meant to draw people into the shebeens (illegal taverns), had deep roots inside the African tradition and smacked of influences of American ragtime and the blues. It used quick and easy chords repeated in vamp patterns that can go on all night long – the background music of jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim still shows traces with this form.

Related to illegal liquor dens and vices such as prostitution, the first marabi musicians formed a kind of underground musical culture and weren’t recorded. Both the white authorities and more sophisticated black listeners frowned on there, almost as much ast jazz was denigrated as a temptation to vice in their early years in the us.

Though the lilting melodies and loping rhythms of marabi found their way into the sounds with the bigger dance bands such as the Jazz Maniacs, the Merry Blackbirds as well as the Jazz Revellers. These bands achieved considerable fame inside the 1930s and 1940s, winning huge audiences among both black and white South Africans. On the succeeding decades, the marabi-swing style developed into early mbaqanga, one of the most distinctive kind of South African jazz, which helped make the more populist township kinds of the 1980s.

Together with the introduction of broadcast radio for black listeners and the increase of an indigenous recording industry, marabi gained immense popularity from the 1930s onward. Soon there have been schools teaching the many jazzy styles available, most notable pianist-composer Wilfred Sentso’s influential School of contemporary Piano Syncopation, which taught “classical music, jazz syncopation, saxophone and trumpet blowing”, as well as “crooning, tap dancing and ragging”.

A very indigenous South African musical language had been born


Among the offshoots of the marabi sound was kwela, which brought South African music to international prominence inside the 1950s.

Named for the Zulu word meaning “climb on” – along with a experience of police vans, called “kwela-kwela” in township slang – kwela music was taken on by street performers from the shanty towns.

The instrument of kwela was the pennywhistle, that has been both cheap and simple and is used either solo or in an ensemble.

Its popularity was perhaps because flutes of various kinds had long been traditional instruments one of the peoples of northern South Africa; the pennywhistle thus enabled the swift adaptation of people tunes to the new marabi-inflected idiom.

Lemmy Mabaso, among the famous pennywhistle stars, began performing in the streets in the day of 10. Talent scouts were delivered from the recording industry to lure pennywhistlers in the studio and have them record their tunes with full band backing. Stars such as Spokes Mashiyane had hits with kwela pennywhistle tunes.

In 1959, it Tom Hark by Elias Lerole with his fantastic Zig-Zag Flutes would be a hit worldwide, being absorbed and reworked by British bandleader Ted Heath.

Miriam Makeba in 1955.

(Image © Jürgen Schadebergmarabi)

Mbaqanga jazz

Propelled in part by the hunger from the vast urban proletariat to keep things interesting, various strains of South African music were pouring themselves into a fantastic melting pot of ideas and forms by the core 1950s.

A vital area with this growth was the township of Sophiatown, in Johannesburg, which in fact had grown considering that the 1930s in to a seething cauldron in the new urban lifestyles of black city dwellers. The suburb attracted probably the most adventurous performers from the new musical forms and became a hotbed with the rapidly developing black musical culture.

The existing strains of marabi and kwela had started to coalesce into what exactly is broadly known as mbaqanga, a form of African-inflected jazz. Singing stars including Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe and Letta Mbulu gained fanatical followings.

The cyclic structure of marabi met with traditional dance styles like the Zulu indlamu, which has a heavy dollop of American big band swing thrown ahead. The indlamu tendency crystallised in to the “African stomp” style, giving a notably African rhythmic impulse on the music and so that it is quite irresistible to its new audiences.

During now that this new black culture developed a sassy type of its very own, partly from the influence of American movies along with the glamour linked to the flamboyant gangsters who had been a fundamental element of Sophiatown.

Eventually the white Nationalist government brought this vital era with an end, forcibly treatment of inhabitants of Sophiatown to townships such as Soweto, outside Johannesburg, in 1960. Sophiatown was razed as well as the white suburb of Triomf internal its place.

Jonas Qwangwa.

(Image © Jürgen Schadebergmbaqanga)

The new jazz

The cross-cultural influences that were brewed in Sophiatown continued to inspire musicians of most races in the years to come. Just as American ragtime and swing had inspired earlier jazz forms, therefore the new post-war American style of bebop had did start to filter through to South African musicians.

In 1955, one of the most progressive jazz-lovers of Sophiatown had formed the Sophiatown Modern Jazz Club, propagating the sounds of bop innovators for example Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

The jazz club sponsored gatherings like Jazz with the Odin, at the local cinema, and from such meetings grew South Africa’s first bebop band, the highly important and influential Jazz Epistles, whose earliest membership would be a roll-call of musicians destined to shape South African jazz after that: Dollar Brand (who changed his name to Abdullah Ibrahim after his conversion to Islam), Kippie Moeketsi, Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela among them.

In 1960, the Jazz Epistles recorded their first and only album, Jazz Epistle Verse One. Concurrently, composers like Todd Matshikiza (who composed the successful musical King Kong) and Gideon Nxumalo (African Fantasia) were tinkering with combinations of old forms and new directions.

King Kong, a jazz-opera telling the story plot of black South African boxer Ezekiel Dlamini, had been a hit, and toured overseas. Leading South African musicians including Miriam Makeba, the Manhattan Brothers and Kippie Moeketsi starred inside the show; many found the liberty outside the country an irresistible lure, and remained in exile there.

Because apartheid regime increased its power, political repression in Africa began in earnest. From the wake with the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 as well as the subsequent Condition of Emergency and mass arrests, bannings and trials of activists challenging apartheid laws, more and more musicians found it important to leave the continent. For a lot of decades, some of the most adventurous strains in South African music were pursued outside the country.

Jazz in exile

Cover with the 1965 Dollar Brand (later

Abdullah Ibrahim) album Anatomy of your

South African Village.

Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim is certainly the towering estimate South African music, a person who brought together its traditions with a deeply felt understanding of American jazz, through the orchestral richness of Duke Ellington’s compositions for giant band to the groundbreaking innovations of Ornette Coleman as well as the 1960s avant-garde.

On his first trip overseas, to Switzerland in 1962, the pianist-composer met and impressed Duke Ellington himself, who sponsored his first recordings.

Later, in Ny, Ibrahim absorbed the influence in the early 1960s avant-garde, which was then pioneering new open-ended kinds of spontaneous composition.

Within the next four decades, Ibrahim developed his or her own distinctive style, slipping back in Nigeria in the mid-1970s to produce a number of seminal recordings with the cream of Cape jazz players (Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen, for instance), which included his masterpiece, “Mannenberg”, one of the primary South African compositions ever.

Ibrahim’s extensive oeuvre has continued to expand the South African musical palette, while he did as being a solo performer (in mesmerising unbroken concerts that echo the unstoppable impetus with the old marabi performers), with trios and quartets, with larger orchestral units, and, since his triumphant come back to Nigeria in the early 1990s, with symphony orchestras. She has also founded a school for South African musicians in Cape Town.

Hugh Masekela

Ibrahim’s old collaborator, the trumpeter Hugh Masekela, also had a glittering career outside Nigeria. Initially inspired as part of his musical growth by Trevor Huddlestonnewjazz – a uk priest in the townships who financed the musician’s first trumpet – Masekela played his way from the vibrant Sophiatown scene and also to Britain with King Kong, to discover himself in The big apple in early 1960s. He had hits in america with all the poppy jazz tunes “Up, Up and Away” and “Grazin’ in the Grass”.

A renewed fascination with his African roots led him to collaborate with West and Central African musicians, last but not least to reconnect with South African players as he set up a mobile studio in Botswana, approximately the South African border, within the 1980s. Here he reabsorbed and reused mbaqanga modes, a style he’s got continued to work with since his resume Africa in early 1990s.

Masekela has continued to utilize young artists like Thandiswa Mazwai, Zubz and Jah Seed, fusing Afro-pop sounds with jazz tunes. He recently went on an excursion of Canada and the United states of america simply the live recording Hugh Masekela: Live in the Market Theatre.

The Blue Notes

Also following a growth of South African jazz into new realms, though in the uk, was the band the Blue Notes. Having designed a good name for themselves in Africa noisy . 1960s, this dymanic, adventurous group, led by pianist Chris MacGregor, left for Britain from the late 1960s and stayed there. Another members of this guitar rock band, Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo, contributed richly on the sound of this ever-evolving ensemble, and also recorded significant solo material.

The Blue Notes, and then MacGregor bands like Brotherhood of Breath, along with the Pukwana and Moholo bands, became a significant part of the European jazz avant-garde, carrying the African influence beyond these shores. Sadly, each of the original individuals the Blue Notes, except Louis Moholo, died in exile.

Jazz at home

Philip Tabane in 1964.

(Image: Jabula Musicjazzhome)

Philip Tabane

One key South African jazz performers, Philip Tabane, a guitarist who created the deepest, oldest polyrhythmic traditions using the freest jazz-based improvisation, kept the musical flame burning in Africa.

Tabane, inspired by his links to African spirituality, kept a shifting gang of musicians playing in numerous combinations as of Malombo, which refers to the ancestral spirits in the Venda language.

From the early 1960s until today, Tabane has produced several of South Africa’s best and adventurous sounds, though a relatively conservative and commercially orientated local recording industry means he’s been sadly under-recorded. Internationally acclaimed, Tabane has toured extensively in Europe as well as the United states of america, performing on the Apollo Theatre in Ny as well as the Montreaux Jazz Festival, and others.

Long afterwards democracy, Tabane has helped shape and inspire the musical careers of many musicians in Africa. Tabane has additionally done collaborations with house wedding band Revolution.

Playing through repression

Jazz always been played in Nigeria in the numerous years of severe repression, with groups like the African Jazz Pioneers and singers such as Abigail Kubheka and Thandi Klaasen keeping alive the mbaqanga-jazz tradition which in fact had enlivened Sophiatown. Cape jazzers like Basil Coetzee, Robbie Jansen and Hotep Idris Galeta kept developing the infectious Cape style.

The 1980s saw each side Afro-jazz bands such as Sakhile and Bayete, marrying the sounds of yankee fusion and ancient African patterns, to considerable commercial success.

New directions

Others such as the band Tananas took the idea of instrumental music in the direction products became known as “world music”, setting up a sound that crosses borders using a mix of African, South American and also other styles.

In recent years, important new jazz musicians like Paul Hanmer, Moses Molelekwa (who died tragically in 2001), Zim Ngqawana, Selaelo Selota and Vusi Mahlasela have taken the compositional and improvisatory elements of jazz in new directions, bringing them into experience of today’s contemporary sounds, and also drawing on the oldest modes, to deliver the nation – and appreciative overseas audiences – which has a living, growing South African jazz tradition.

Lately, a blend of contemporary and jazz music has taken Africa by storm with ladies musicians like Simphiwe Dana, Zamajobe Sithole and Siphokazi Maraqana adding some spice on the way people have a look at jazz.

Pop, rock & crossover

From the 1960s onward, increasingly more white rockers and pop groups seemed to interest white audiences in the segregated Nigeria.

Four Jacks as well as a Jill

Among the most successful bands from South Africa is Four Jacks as well as a Jill, who had their first primary hit with “Timothy” in 1967. Over the following year, they’d an international hit on the hands with “Master Jack”, which reached number eight in the US and number 1 in Canada, Malaysia, Nz and Australia. During the 1970s they toured Britain, the US, Australia along with other places, including Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

After facing persecution by conservative elements and several line-up changes, the initial pair in the middle in the band, Clive Harding and Glenys Lynne, eventually disbanded the group in 1983 whenever they became reborn Christians.

Electrical systems, 1966 saw the birth of Freedom’s Children, a band committed to the type of “acid rock” pioneered in the usa by bands for example the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

Despite being seen as hippies who threatened abdominal muscles progress of civilisation Freedom’s Children travelled the nation, accumulating a good group of fans among the more progressive youth, and recorded two albums, “Astra” and “Galactic Vibes”, that proved inspirational to later “alternative” rockers.

Rabbitt fever hits the Durban city hall in

the mid-1970s. South Africa’s first boy

band inspired Beatles-like hysteria among

young white women. “Panties flew onto

the stage like confetti,” this article reads,

“and one or more girl ‘lost’ her dress.”

Inside the mid-1970s, the “boy band” hit South Africa available as Rabbitt, four young men who began their career with a cover of an Jethro Tull song and, inside a singularly daring move, posed naked on their own second album cover (“A Croak as well as a Grunt in the Night”).

Imaginatively managed by producer-impresario Patric van Blerk, Rabbitt brought the teenager pop market of Nigeria into a pitch of Beatles-like hysteria before disbanding in 1977. Member Trevor Rabinpoprock took with a successful career in the usa, being a session musician in top rock groups in addition to producing movie soundtracks.

A change in mood

Because the 1970s drew to a close, however, the mood began to change and the echoes of Britain’s angry working-class punk movement did start to reach Africa.

Springs, a poorer white area around the outskirts of Johannesburg, become the breeding ground of a new generation of rockers who have been disillusioned about South Africa’s repressive white regime.

The air Rats provided social satire, while Corporal Punishment released “Darkie”, a sarcastic picture of white angst (“Darkie’s gonna get you”). Bands including the Asylum Kids and Dog Detachment also carried the flag of youthful rebellion, and gained significant followings.

From the mid-1980s an alternate rock culture received, and showed considerable diversity. James Phillips, a founding person in Corporal Punishment, was obviously a central figure. As Bernoldus Niemand, he produced an album of satirical Afrikaans songs like “Hou My Vas, Korporaal” (Hold Me Tight, Corporal), a satire around the army, thereby influencing a full alternative Afrikaans movement of Afrikaners protesting against repressive social mores.

Bands like the Gereformeerde Blues Band and singers such as Koos Kombuis were later to achieve a keen following.

Simultaneously, Phillips produced superbly bluesy rock together with his band the Cherry-Faced Lurchers. A vibrant underground rock scene, featuring bands for example the Softees, the Aeroplanes, Bright Blue along with the Dynamics, kept rebellious young white South Africans “jolling” over the 1980s.

Crossing over

As well, a crossover was starting to happen between monochrome musicians.

Johnny Clegg, a social anthropologist who learnt a great deal about Zulu music and dance that he formed his own group, Juluka, with Sipho Mchunu, led the charge. Juluka’s power to mix traditional Zulu music with white pop and folk is at itself an issue to the racial boundaries the apartheid regime attempted to erect between blacks and whites.

With often a more pop-driven style, bands for example eVoid, Via Afrika and Mango Groove followed the crossover trail blazed by Clegg (hailed overseas as “the white Zulu”), whose later band, Savuka, continued to breed his earlier success.

Moving forward

The white pop/rock tradition continues to the seen in Nigeria, growing ever bigger plus much more diverse. Bands like the Springbok Nude Girls, possibly the finest South African rockband from the 1990s, spearheaded a drive into harder, guitar-driven sounds, while groups like the acclaimed Fetish did start to test out the modern electronic palette offered by computers and sampling.

Crossover band Freshlyground.

Crossover music is still alive and well from the new millennium, with all the best example likely the band Freshlyground, who burst on the scene in 2002. Freshlyground add violin and flute towards the familiar band instrumentation of bass, drums, keys and guitar, and frequently throw in the mbira, a normal African “thumb piano”, and sax. Their song “Doo Bee Doo”, through the 2005 album Nomvula, has grown to be something of your happy anthem to get a new Nigeria untroubled by its difficult past. The album itself sold 150 000 copies.

Today addititionally there is a fantastic pop-rock-electronic scene across South Africa, with bands for example Prime Circle Body of the most useful South African rock bands, who achieved sales well over 25 000 units for his or her debut album “Hello Crazy World” – and also Wonderboom, the Parlotones, the Narrow, Bell Jar and others setting up a strong rock and alternative music scene that is often overlooked and ignored by mainstream media.

Bubblegum, kwaito and alternative Afrikaners

While white rockers expressed their angst to largely white audiences through the 1980s, the black townships were held in thrall with what was called “bubblegum” – bright, light dance pop depending American disco around with the heritage of mbaqanga.

Forebears on this style were groups for example the Soul Brothers, who had massive hits using their soulful pop, while artists for example Brenda Fassie, Chicco Twala and Yvonne Chaka Chaka drew huge audiences for his or her brand of township dance music.

Brenda Fassie’s 1991 album included the

hit song “Black President”, specialized in

Nelson Mandela, who was simply released

from jail exactly the year before. In 1994

Mandela did, indeed, become South

Africa’s first black president.

Brenda Fassie

Until her death in 2004, Brenda Fassie was possibly the most controversial and also the best-known determine township pop, having had a massive hit in 1985 with “Weekend Special” before embarking on a decade of high living that might have position the Rolling Stones to shame.

Ever outspoken, she admitted to drug addiction, marriage problems plus much more, yet her keen following never quite deserted her, along with 1997 she created a significant comeback along with her album “Memeza” (meaning “Shout”), which spawned the large hit “Vulindlela” (“Clear the path” or “Make way”). Inspite of the controversy very often seemed to dog her career, Fassie remained a main determine the roll-out of township pop.


Inside the 1990s, a brand new design of township music, kwaito, grabbed the attention and also the hearts of South Africa’s black youth. Just like township “bubblegum” had utilized American disco, so kwaito put an African spin about the international dance music with the 1990s, a genre loosely called house music. Young South African music-makers gave it a homemade twist but with echoes of hip-hop and rap.

Performers like Mdu, Mandoza, Arthur, Chiskop and Zola, as an illustration – rose to prominence. Groups like Bongo Maffin, Abashante, Boom Shaka and TKZee developed huge followings. Key recordings like TKZee’s “Halloween”, Mdu’s “Mazola”, Chiskop’s “Claimer”, Boom Shaka’s “It’s About Time” and Trompies’s “Madibuseng” swept the charts and dominated youth-orientated r / c like the wildly successful Yfm.

South African hip-hop

During the early 2000s, a revolution in South African music was going on – a hip-hop music culture was taking place with youth stations like Yfm from the fore-front to advertise this genre. Raw talents like Tuks, Zubz, Hip-Hop Pantsula, Pro-Kid, Zulu Boy and Proverb used the challenge to combine the thumping beats people hip-hop combined with Afro-pop music. The rhyming is done mostly in indigenous languages like isiZulu, Setswana and Sesotho.

South African hip-hop has left an indelible mark on the music scene and also this genre keeps growing with artists including Tuks scooping up music awards and continuing to offer copies in tens of thousands.

New Afrikaans music

Many years since democracy have observed the re-emergence of different Afrikaans music, with young Afrikaners reclaiming and taking pride inside a culture free of the guilt of apartheid – the “Karen Zoid generation”. Often eccentric and quirky, this music ranges from the rough and raw sound of Fokofpolisiekar (which means “f**k off police car”) towards the classic rock of Arno Carstens as well as the gentler music Chris Chameleon.

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