The news from the weekend is that our Amapiano champion, Kabza De Small walked away with 4 SAMA awards. He took the coveted Male Artist of the Year for his ‘King of Amapiano’ album, and along with his musical partner DJ Maphoriso secured Album of the Year, Duo/Group of the Year for ‘Scorpion Kings’ and Best Amapiano Album award for ‘Time in Lockdown’.
Today I am featuring three South African musicians of varying styles and all of exceptional talent. Two of them are from the same era and have been a part of the local music scene for decades. The third is a much younger, lovely man who hails from the South Coast of Kwa Zulu Natal. The three songs all hit my suggested clips over the past week so I thought it a good time to go local.
We received the sad news of the passing of Colin Shamley this week. Although Colin’s wasn’t a well known name to many, he was a leading voice during the apartheid years of South African music and well known, particularly on the folk music scene of the 70s.
Early last year I shared the smouldering, bluesy track ‘My Friend Kevin’ from Dax Butler. Unless you were involved in local music in the 70’s and 80’s, you may not remember his name, and that’s a shame. Today it is my aim to rectify that with a few tracks from his first album since the release ‘Drink in Everything’ in 2012. This is thanks to a heads-up from our friends at Cape Town’s Shoreline Music.
A South African band that truly deserve the recognition they received is Henry Ate, the hitmaking outfit founded and headed by vocalist Karma-Ann Swannepoel and Julian Sun. From the duo’s first live appearance at Wings Beat Bar in Johannesburg in 1995, they went on to become one of the country’s biggest hit machines, holding their own on the charts against the slew of international acts over the years.
This weekend we honour Human Rights Day in South Africa. Although human rights cover so many areas that are an ongoing global challenge, today I am exploring the role that music played during the 46-year-long apartheid regime that cruelly divided our nation. It is an interesting, if uncomfortable, topic that covers a very dark area of our history. To imagine what kind of country South Africa would be had apartheid not happened is in the realm of speculation, but this misguided system of racial segregation did manage to produce some memorable music.
I’m staying local to finish off the week with a band that emerged in 1995. Broadly speaking, Egyptian Nursey could be regarded as South Africa’s original Trip-Hop outfit, and although they only released one album, went on to influence a number of acts to follow. Considering the nationalities of the members, there is often debate as to if they can be considered South African? Whichever side of the fence you sit on this topic, listeners and critics adopted them as ‘ours’ on the first hearing.
I was recently asked to repost an article I wrote early last year about a South African band that has always fascinated me, Falling Mirror. Being formed in the late 70s, they fit perfectly into the mish-mash of musical styles and cross-overs that the era started to produce.
South Africa has such a diversity of musical styles and I sometimes tend to concentrate on bringing you music you may never have heard before at the expense of the new hit-makers. I tend to leave the hit-parade material alone but there are three artists in Johannesburg’s Mix FM local chart at the moment that I really feel deserve their place on the Loving the Music pages. I also have my non-SA friends and followers in mind while writing this who may seldom get to hear what’s trending on our local pop charts.
I am so excited to share a new find with you today. Thanks to a social heads-up from our friends at Rootspring Music I have finally discovered Urban Village. Although they only released their first album last month, this quartet of outstanding musicians has been around for a while. Sometimes there is a dire lack of information available about some of our new local artists; not so Urban Village. I happily found enough articles and interviews to keep the researcher in me smiling, and their full catalogue of past EP releases on Spotify and YouTube to keep my ears happy. The only problem I have had is choosing only three songs to share for today’s feature. They are all so good.
Every country has its own style of house music, but South Africa’s has a uniqueness about it that makes it immediately recognisable. Established global names like DJ Fresh and Black Coffee, and recent heavyweights such as Prince Kayebee and Kabza de Small have taken ‘our’ sound to a level of sleek sophistication. The DJ I’m featuring today is a part of the ‘heavyweight’ group, Sun-El Musician.
Among the bands and musicians of the 1990s that have gone on to be household names and local legends is Arno Carstens, the Stellenbosch boy who rocked our world with Springbok Nude Girls and has continued his successful career (with and without ‘the Nudies’) to this day. Arno’s complete story is way too long and winding for a Tuesday mini-feature and deserves a major article to completely cover his musical journey. With this in mind, I have decided to share some background and songs from the Springbok Nude Girls part of his vast career.
Next week marks the 36th anniversary of a landmark event in South African musical history, the concert held to benefit Operation Hunger at Ellis Park (Johannesburg) in 1985. What made it so important is that it was the first time that the stringent apartheid laws were ignored and 125,000 multi-racial fans took the chance to celebrate our country’s diverse musical talent in a 12-hour festival that went off without a hitch, no violence (except for the vocalist of USA band Feather Contol being hit on the head by a bottle – a statement against non-local music methinks), and a wake-up call that the youth had had quite enough of being told what to think, what to believe and what music to listen to.
Having grown up in the hippy influenced kaftan and bead-clad years of the 60s, the first thing that attracted me to the New Romantics were the fashions. The theatricality of the movement struck a chord in me and heralded yet another colourful era. Then there was the emerging synth-pop sound that was so refreshing at a time when most of the offerings from the old-guard were starting to become ‘more of the same’.
I don’t often do a feature on Top 40 songs, but it seems that the lockdown has been inspirational to many of our South African musicians, which has resulted in some really good songs receiving well-deserved airplay at the moment. I know that many of our local followers will have heard these tracks, but today is for all the ex-Pats out there who are craving some sounds from home.
Goldfish is the story of two Cape Town guys who embraced the world of EDM and, in return, were embraced straight back. Their incorporation of Jazz and African vibes in their feel-good brand of Dance music has gone on to entertain crowds from Cape Town to Ibiza and with good reason.
Today’s mini-feature tells the story of what I once thought of as a South African band, but on researching found that they had roots stretching back to the early 60s to Britain. I’m talking about Ballyhoo and their success in South Africa is only a part of their fascinating history.
It’s time to go local again today with a band from the ‘90s that you’re bound to remember, Urban Creep. When Durban boys Brendan Jury, Chris Letcher, Ross Campbell and Didier Nobila formed in 1993 I doubt if they realised the impact they would make on local music.