Category: Music

  • Letta Mbulu

    Letta Mbulu was born and raised in Soweto in South Africa. As a teenager toured to England with the musical ‘King Kong,’ which ran for a year following a highly successful two-year run in South Africa. On returning to South Africa the policies of Apartheid forced her to leave for the United States in 1965. […]

  • Mbaqanga

    Sometimes called “township jive” , mbaqanga is a South African dance music which evolved in the townships and became broadly popular in the 1960s and ’70s. It usually includes guitars and bass, often brass, atop cascading rhythms. Vocal groups such the Manhattan Brothers, the Skylarks, and Malathini & the Mahotella Queens popularized their vocal version […]

  • Music Kwaito

    While white rockers expressed their angst to largely white audiences during the 1980s, the black townships were held in thrall by what came to be called ‘bubblegum’ – bright, light dance pop influenced by American disco as much as by the heritage of mbaqanga. Forebears of this style were groups such as The Soul Brothers, […]

  • Jazz in south africa

    1950s and 60s The cross-cultural influences that had been brewed in Sophiatown continued to inspire musicians of all races in the years that followed. Just as American ragtime and swing had inspired earlier jazz forms, so the new post-war American style of bebop had begun to filter through to South African musicians. In 1955, the […]

  • Hugh Masekela

    Hugh Masekela (born Johannesburg, April 4, 1939) is a South African flugelhorn and cornet player. In 1961, as part of the anti-apartheid campaign, he was exiled to the United States where he was befriended by Harry Belafonte. He has played primarily in jazz ensembles, with guest appearances on albums by The Byrds and Paul Simon. […]

  • Music Minstrel

    South Africans had their first formal contact with African-Americans and African-American music on 19 June 1890 when the minstrel troupe of Orpheus Myron McAdoo’s Virginia Jubilee Singers presented a series of concerts in Cape Town. The minstrel troupe consisted of six women and four men, and their appearance was to create a significant impact upon […]

  • Kwela

    As well as being cheap and portable, the pennywhistle could also be used by a solo performer or as an ensemble instrument. Part of the popularity of the pennywhistle was based on the fact that flutes of different kinds had long been traditional instruments among the peoples of the more northerly parts of South Africa, […]

  • Music Choirs

    In 1897, Enoch Sontonga, then a teacher, composed the hymn Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa), which was later adopted by the liberation movement and later became the first part of the national anthem of a democratic South Africa. The missionary influence, plus the later influence of American spirituals, spurred a gospel movement that is […]

  • Marabi

    In the early years of the 20th century, the increasing urbanisation of black South Africans in mining centres such as the gold mining area around Johannesburg – the so-called Witwatersrand – led to the development of township slums or ghettos, and out of this hardship came forth new forms of music, marabi and kwela amongst […]