Music in South Africa

By | March 24, 2021

South Africa Map

South Africa Map

As a major country in African continent according to ask4beauty, the “rainbow nation” South Africa has had an eventful history of racial segregation and liberation from apartheid. As a political and economic giant in the region of southern Africa, South Africa also has an important say in world politics, while at the same time the country is facing immense economic and social tasks.

Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim

The music scene in South Africa is very diverse. In the course of its history, South African music has produced a number of styles such as ” marabi ” and ” kwela “. She has also had her own influence on jazz, pop, rock and crossover. The Southern African Music Rights Organization SAMRO monitors compliance with music rights. Individual websites provide information on the latest from the music industry and festivals. These include Oppikoppi, Cape Town International Jazz Festival as well as other festivals on rock, electronic music, marimba music and several festivals of various musical styles, especially in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The most famous musicians include Miriam Makeba, the great Mama Africa, who died in November 2008 at a solidarity concert in Italy, and Brenda Fassie, who died in 2004, an icon of South African pop music who was represented in the British charts.

The man who gave jazz back its African roots is Abdullah Ibrahim, who toured as a dollar brand in the jazz clubs of North America and Europe until his conversion to Islam. Today he is a legend of South African jazz. There are quite a few videos of him on YouTube. Another jazz legend was trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who often performed on stage with Abdullah Ibrahim (video for Masekela). Jazz music was a form of resistance, especially in the districts of Sophiatown in Johannesburg and District 6 in Cape Town, which are inhabited by people of different origins, their own styles developed. The apartheid regime countered with traditionalist music broadcast on a special Bantu radio station. Major jazz musicians were put under pressure and went into exile. Sipho Gumede was one of the jazz greats.

Vusi Mahlasela

Vusi Mahlasela

The musician and guitarist Vusi Mahlasela, who opposed apartheid, has received several awards for his individual lyrical vocal style. He combines traditional musical elements with jazz; he appeared at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as President in 1994.

Johnny Clegg developed his own style of music from pop and traditional Zulu music with several bands such as Juluka and Savuka in the 1980’s. He also founded the South African Musicians Alliance, which turned against apartheid. Together with several other musicians, he campaigned for Nelson Mandela’s release. His song Asimbonanga (we have not seen him, we have no seen Mandela…) became legendary. During the Johnny Clegg concert in Frankfurt in 1999, Nelson Mandela took the stage when Johnny Clegg and his band played the song Asimbonanga. Johnny Clegg died on July 16, 2019; in South Africa and trusted countless people around the world. The courageous musician was repeatedly arrested by apartheid police for working with black musicians.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo combines Christian gospel songs with traditional music; the group shaped their own a cappella style and worked with Paul Simon (Graceland) and Stevie Wonder.

Gospel choirs are often associated with the Zionist Church or Pentecostal Churches. Probably the best known gospel singer is Rebecca Malope. She has now produced over 30 CDs and runs her own TV show “It’s Gospel Time”.

The orchestras include the National Symphony Orchestra, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchstra. Some are now performing with black soloists and choirs. The opera film U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, which was awarded at the Berlinale 2005, has contributed in part to more openness. Some South African youth orchestras and young musicians receive funding. The support is also aimed at exchanges with European youth orchestras.

There is a growing market for country-style music in Afrikaans among whites in the country, and pop, rock and punk bands of young Afrikaans-speaking musicians have now formed. Individual gothic and blues bands emerged during apartheid. In addition to reggae, techno and afro rock, some black artists sing in traditional African languages. The International Library of African Music, which is attached to Grahamstown University, offers the largest collection of African music on the continent. Numerous instruments and sound recordings from all African countries are stored there. The Kwaito style is a mixture of house, rhythm & blues, hip hop and traditional sounds. The individual musical styles are becoming more and more differentiated, and young musicians develop their own styles. House music, which began to emerge as a resistance culture in the 1980’s, now has countless producers and DJs.