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South Africa Holiday: Lucky Dube

Ermelo (Lucky) Dube (pronounced doo-bay) (b.1967) is a South African reggae musician from Johannesburg. His parents named him Lucky because he was born in poor health, and the doctors thought he would die as a baby.

Lucky's parents separated before he was born. Due to apartheid and the overall racism in South Africa at the time, his mother was barely able to take care of the children. He had a tough upbringing and lived in turn, with his mother, grandmother and an uncle.
At school he would find a safe place and spent much time learning. This made him quite popular with the teachers at that time.
Soon he discovered the school's musical instruments and began to find his musical interests. He went to the school choir to blow off some weight, as the situation in his home was rather dire. The teacher immediately realized he was a gifted child.
He began to sing in bars in his home town and in the church choir. Lucky paired up with a few of his friends in the choir and together they founded the band Skyway. They played with instruments they 'borrowed' from the school and began playing traditional Zulu music known as mbaqanga. They were together for 2 years, but soon their teacher would lock the instruments away and the band fell apart.
When Lucky was 18 he joined the Love Brothers, a mbaqanga band led by Richard Siluma, who later became his manager. Shortly after the band was signed to Tear Records, which is now known as Gallo Record Company. The band changed their name to "Lucky Dube and the Supersoul" and released their first record. The second album came soon afterwards, this time Lucky wrote the lyrics. With their third album they already had a considerable fan base and he could afford to purchase some instruments as well as a recording desk.
It was around the time of his fifth mbaqanga album that Lucky met sound engineer Dave Segal and the band name changed to simply Lucky Dube.
Lucky began listening to reggae music from Jamaica - artists such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The lyrics particularly intrigued him as they were social messages aimed at the struggle of the black man, whilst still maintaining a commercial sound. Lucky felt it was the perfect medium for the South African political situation.
His first reggae album, Rastas Never Die, was banned in South Africa on account of its militancy, and Dube diversified into rap for Help My Krap.
In 1986 his new band, the Slaves, recorded 'Think About The Children', and their second album, 'Slave', sold 300,000 copies. In 1989 he toured France and the USA with the group and appeared in the movie Voice In The Dark. Two albums in that year, 'Together As One' and 'Prisoner', sold heavily, the latter going double platinum in South Africa in only five days.
In 1991 Dube became the first South African artist to play the Reggae Sunsplash festival in Jamaica, and again he issued two albums in one year, 'Captured Live' and 'House Of Exile'.
Tours of Japan and Australia were also a success, and Dube additionally played WOMAD with Peter Gabriel. Victims again broke his own record for worldwide sales, shifting in excess of a million copies on various licensee imprints.
Lucky Dube makes a type of melodious, African reggae that slowly but surely has turned him into a superstar. He sings powerfully in English about social problems. With the song, "Together As One", he became the first black artist in South Africa to be played on a white radio station.
He has had no formal musical education, but nevertheless plays several instruments and arranges his own songs. Through this Lucky Dube has established himself as a popular reggae artist, both within South Africa and internationally.
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