Scroll to page 18-24 for Soul Gems & Bump Music in this volume of ‘Hot Stuff’. The story of South African Disco & Boogie Part 1…discover how soul singer Margaret Singana became known as Lady Africa….read a collector’s story on one of the rarest records by Percy Sledge produced and recorded for a South African movie…and remember why David Thekwane and Patricia Majalisa became household names in South Africa and beyond.
Percy Sledge -Soul Fire
This post features an extended article on South African Disco & Boogie I wrote for the ‘Hot Stuff’ online magazine. This specialist publication is recommended wholeheartedly, chockablock with interesting interviews, articles, reviews and memorabilia of the Disco era.
More rare stuff in Part 2 of South African Disco & Boogie to be published soon…
Thank you for being a part of Soul Safari! Just to let you know that Soul Safari appreciates your visit to these pages. May 2017 be a safe, prosperous and healthy year for all of you!
in this fascinating biography on Nina Simone by Alan Light, the late singer also speaks, through the many documents from her legacy of private correspondence and diaries. This brand new book is part of a revival on the artistry and life of Nina Simone, a militant and successful but also troubled singer who became an icon of American jazz & blues.
Director Cynthia Mort of ‘Nina’, the film released earlier this year in the US received a lot of criticism by casting the lightly colored actress Zoe Saldana, who does not resemble the singer physically and had to be transformed rather drastically to perform as the ‘blackskinned’ Nina Simone.
Then of course there was the Netflix documentary ‘What Happened, Miss Simone’ by Liz Garbus on which the book by Alan Light is based.
Ms Simone, known as one of the last great jazz divas, was also a committed civil rights activist in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, fighting oppression as a black woman from the segregated southern US states. Songs like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women” became iconic statements of that period.
As a young jazz piano player and singer, Nina Simone was quickly discovered and found immediate success. She became a millionaire and a star on the American and international stages and performed in numerous television shows. But at the same time Simone began to become more and engaged with the emerging black protest movement of nonviolent protest of Martin Luther King to the racial separatism of Malcolm X. Her rants about racial discrimination in America from the stage alienated her public.
On April 21st 2003 hundreds of mourners gathered in the southern French town of Carry-le-Rouet to pay their last respects to legendary US jazz and blues singer Nina Simone (born Eunice Waymon 1933)
South African singer Ms Miriam Makeba, a close friend of Ms Simone, was among those in attendance at the funeral in the Our Lady of the Assumption church at Carry-le-Rouet, just west of the port city of Marseille.
“She was not only an artist but also a freedom fighter,” Ms Makeba said before taking a seat inside the church next to Simone’s 36-year-old daughter Lisa for the ceremony.
“Nina Simone was a part of history. She fought for the liberation of black people. It is with much pain that we received the news of her death” read a message sent from the South African government.
At her request, Ms Simone’s ashes were spread in several African countries.
Hello World. Today’s post is a longread so may I suggest to take your time.
At the start of February the SA Menswear Fall 2016 Week took place in Cape Town, as in other capitals of the world. After Paris, Milan and London, the African continent sets its mark on international fashion. Fashion is flourishing as never before in Africa, a legion of ambitious young fashion designers are evolving towards national and international recognition and showing their collections to local and foreign buyers and press. The first rows are complemented by an enthusiastic young audience of bloggers and fashionistas eager to see the latest fashion.
And the amazing thing is that this actually sells. A new black middle-class has the money and interest to actually buy the clothes of African designers. Design boutiques and ultra-luxurious shopping centres offer a shopping extravanga never seen before and are popping up around the big South African cities. Should you be looking for a 40’s Christian Dior jacket, a Balenciaga ballgown from the 50’s, or Jordache bellbottoms, then your retro fix will be satisfied at The Flea Market at the Market Theatre in Newtown, the cultural hub of Johannesburg.
But it’s more than just expensive designer clothes or original vintage haute couture. Fashion is hot not only for style-concious hipsters but is regarded as a highly effective way to create an own identity. It is also a firm confirmation that one who dresses well has style. And the young ‘bornfrees’-the generation that was born after 1991-have style, radiate confidence and success. Besides that, African traditions and the heritage of the ancestors are en vogue.
That is reflected in the book The Black Photo Album / Look at Me: 1890-1950 by Santu Mofokeng (Published by Steidl in 2013. ISBN 978-3869303109)
For this book Santu Mofokeng collected private photographs which urban black working and middle-class families in South Africa commissioned between 1890 and 1950, a time when the government was creating policies towards those designated as “natives”. Painterly in style, the images evoke the artifices of Victorian photography. Some of them are fiction, a creation of the artist in terms of setting, props, clothing and pose – yet there is no evidence of coercion. We believe these images, as they reveal something about how these people imagined themselves. In this work Mofokeng analyses the sensibilities, aspirations and self-image of the black population and its desire for representation and social recognition in times of colonial rule and suppression. The Black Photo Album / Look at Me: 1890-1950 is drawn from an ongoing research project of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
DREAM BIG, ACT COOL
Every year The Street Cred Festival brings a buzz to Johannesburg, an excitement in street-culture that unites the hottest and cool young fashionistas and designers. Streetgangs like the Swenkas, Smarties (Soweto), Isokothan (a gang modeled after the Urhobo People of Niger Delta) show that their passion for fashion is not only obsessive by clothes but at the same time their style manifests a passive aggressive form of resistance.
Although financially limited this young generation wants to create their own look, to show the world an interpretation of Africa, a tribute to their ancestors while looking forward to the future. It is hopeful and positive. What is Africa, Who am I as an African, those are the big questions that engage this new generation. Bloggers like Sartist reflect the search for a new horizon of fashion and dopeness.
LES SAPEURS & NYC GANGSTA STYLE
Each new movement has obviously predecessors. Les Sapeurs became somewhat of a household name in Congo in the 60’s with their brash dandyism. In New York it was designer Dapper Dan of Harlem who created the flamboyant look and style of rappers like LL Cool J and other heroes of the early hip hop scene in early 80’s.
Right on 125th street in Harlem USA, sat a custom high-end clothing boutique owned by Mr. Dapper Dan. Before Kanye, Juelz, Fabolous and some other well known rappers wore Gucci and Louis Vutton, Dapper Dan in the 80’s and 90’s planted the seed for fashion in the hip hop culture. He created one of a kind customized high-end clothing that incorporated highly recognizable accessory logos like those of Gucci and Louis Vuitton, featuring them in non-traditional ways. His pieces were sold for thousands of dollars, and created a sense of what’s cool, what’s new in the streets and ‘in hip-hop’.
The designer describes his way of working as ‘sampling’, an unique interpretation of mixing existing designs and logos with his own interpretation. Dan Dapper ” I opened my workshop in ’82. First I would take little garment bags by Louis Vuitton and Gucci and cut them up, but that wouldn’t suffice for complete garments. So I said, “I have to figure out how to print this on fabric and leather.” I went through trial and error. I didn’t even know we were messing with dangerous chemicals—the U.S. government eventually outlawed the chemicals I was using. We made these huge silk screens so I could do a whole garment. A Jewish friend of mine helped me science out the secret behind the ink, and that was it.”
His designs specified the look of hip-hop artists, sporters and those incurred by gangsters. “Gangsters. That’s who I grew up with. Middle-class blacks couldn’t accept what I was doing—you had to be of a revolutionary spirit. Who would be more like that than gangsters? And who would have the money? Hip-hop artists didn’t have any money. They used to wait until the gangsters left the store before they could come in and ask what the gangsters wore. Everybody follows the gangsters. The athletes came before the hip-hop artists. Mark Jackson, Walter Berry. I’ve got pictures of NBA players that I can’t even remember their names. The athletes had money earlier that the hip-hop artists.
FAVORITE CREATION: The “Alpo Coat” [for drug dealer Alberto Martinez] and the Diane Dixon coat [for Olympic athlete Diane Dixon].
Ozwald Boateng is a London fashion designer of Ghanaian descent and co-founder of Made in Africa Foundation, which supports and funds studies for large-scale infrastructure projects across Africa.
Boateng is known for his classic British menswear, done in warm colors. He is considered one of the most successful designers of men’s fashion in recent years. His big break came in 2005 when he worked as designer for the French fashion house Givenchy and dressed actor Jamie Foxx for the Oscars.
His first show in Ghana caused a small revolution. Just like in 2013 during NYC Fashion Week where Boateng showed mainly African prints processed in classic men’s suits on black models. Boateng’s explains his vision on style; “Colonialism has done little good for Africa but it brought the typical Western sense of style and elegance to Africa. Mixed with local traditions this sensibility created a truely new African identity.”
During the same week in NYC South African born designer Gavin Rajah brought the fantasy element of fashion back to the runway with creations that were eclectic and high glamour. Again, black models ruled the catwalk.
DO NOT MAKE WHAT IS THERE, MAKE WHAT IS NOT THERE
Is the motto of label ACF (Art Comes First/Always Cut First). ACF is an exciting innovative concept that typifies the New Black Dandyism.
In their vision a modern day gentleman stands for Energy, Style, Power and Pride.
With a collection they call “Dance”, Sam Lambert & Shaka Maidoh of the ACF now launch Avec ces Freres. Avec ces Freres inaugural range sees the duo manifest the authentic spirit of the ACF within a focused assortment of interrelated styles. The essential root of the ACF’s style fraternity is their shared vision of the modern gentlemen in a new age. Elemental to this notion is a zealous commitment to travel and the belief that a near constant state of travel leads to a near constant state of learning. Travel is a journey of discovery. Discovery is the porthole to knowledge. -And the sensation experienced during moments of true discovery and the acquisition of knowledge is equal parts cerebral, physical and spiritual. Discovery delivers “little hits of wonder”, it injects a lasting spring in our step and it makes us want to smile and smile, to jump and jump, to dance and dance.
Lambert and Maidoh have worked to vitalize this simple notion in a fresh travel-friendly wardrobe crafted with intelligence, curiosity and good intention.
From the press release of their Autumn/Winter 15 Lookbook
Dark Models dominate World’s Fashion Weeks catwalks…
Jimi Ogunlaja -Sunday Times 7 Feb 16
Akuol De Mabior-sunday times 7 feb 16
SA Menswear Week Autumn 2016
There are 50 shades of grey, and perhaps even more shades of black. And the blacker the better as South African designers scramble for darker-hued models who are regarded as ‘edgy and classy’. About half the models at the South African Menswear Autumn/Winter 2016 in Cape Town were very dark. They walked for designers including Craig Jacobs, Julia M’Poko of Mo’Ko Elosa and Jenevieve Lyons.
Popular on local runways is Jimi Ogunlaja, a Nigerian-born model and the face of 46664 Apparel, who has been walking ramps in South Africa for brands including Fabiani, Carducci and Craig Port since 2008.
Source; The Sunday Times 7th February 2016
During the Paris Fashion 2016 Week black models also graced the Balmain Fall 2016 Ready to Wear catwalk, although the look and wide choice of models was based on the now platinum Kim Kardashian West. Her husband Kanye was sitting front row. His fashion-show-slash-record-listening-slash-party in New York last month drew 20,000 New Yorkers into Madison Square Garden on a freezing Thursday afternoon. The premiere of Yeezy Season 3 and stream of his new album, The Life of Pablo, proved to be the event of the New York Fashion 2016 week—with people lining up hours beforehand to enter. Young, old, invited or not, Kanye fans patiently waited for the doors to open. And once they did it was madness. The power of commercial streetstyle!
Lupita Nyong’o, one of the hottest black actresses of the moment walked onstage of the Late Night With Seth Meyers-talkshow in a tomato red Balmain power suit. Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan actress and film director. She made her American film debut in 2013 in Steve McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years a Slave. She won an Oscar for her supporting role as Patsey. But movie stars, popstars or fashion designers with African roots are not the only forces to dominate fashion in 2016, the biggest influence remains the First Lady of the USA, Michelle Obama.
happy birthday Surinam! The former Dutch colony celebrates 40 years of independency today.
During the festivities swinging music will be heard on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed appropriate to me to select 10 personal favourite tracks from my own collection to celebrate this festive day here in Amsterdam and Surinam. May these gems be heard around the world, as far as Paramaribo…Kawina, Kaseko, disco, surinam soul, latin, mambo …all from different decades and representing the most typical styles of Surinamese music.
At the same time I would like to pay attention to a special book which recently appeared; “Sranan Gowtu’ by Diederik Samwel. Published by Nijgh & Van Ditmar in association with record label Top Notch which already released two compilations with the stars of the Surinamese music in 2013.
The first step in the revaluation of Surinamese music started in 2013 with the collector ‘Sranan Gowtu’ with songs from six different decades. The compilation is packed with Creole music, calypso, Kaseko music, winti songs, salsa, soca, dancehall to the timeless pop hit ‘Wasmasjien! ” by Trafassi. Besides digitally and on CD this compilation is also available in gorgeous red and green vinyl.
However, this is only the beginning. The purpose of Sranan Gowtu is not only to provide an overview of the range of beautiful Surinamese music, but also to go in depth with compilations of individual performers. So meanwhile the best work of Dear Hugo, Trafassi, Max Nijman, Papa Touwtjie and Kid Dynamite has been republished.
And here are my 10 favourite songs from Surinam….
Big Jones and his Kawina Band -Ala Pikin Nengre
from the soundtrack ‘Faja Lobbi ‘; a film by Herman vander Horst (1960)
a kind of ballad about the town of Paramaribo. In the introductory solo singing, all the children (ala pikin nengre) are called to go to the town (foto) to admire everything that may be seen there; the houses (hoso), the big ship (biggie boto), the factories, the machines, the cars, the shops (wenkri) etc. Finally we arrive at the market (wojo) where we find an endless variety of articles, and an equally wide variety of people.
Big Jones -Par’Bo Mambo
rare mambo track that celebrates life in the capital Paramaribo
“A thoughtful, entertaining history of obsessed music collectors and their quest for rare early 78 rpm records” (Los Angeles Times), “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is a fascinating, complex story of preservation, loss, obsession, and art. Before MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, even before LPs or 45s, the world listened to music on fragile, 10-inch shellac discs that spun at 78 revolutions per minute. While vinyl has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, rare and noteworthy 78rpm records are exponentially harder to come by. The most sought-after sides now command tens of thousands of dollars, when they’re found at all. “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is the untold story of a fixated coterie of record collectors working to ensure those songs aren’t lost forever.
Music critic and author Amanda Petrusich considers the particular world of the 78—from its heyday to its near extinction—and examines how a cabal of competitive, quirky individuals have been frantically lining their shelves with some of the rarest records in the world. Besides the mania of collecting, Petrusich also explores the history of the lost backwoods blues artists from the 1920s and 30s whose work has barely survived and introduces the oddball fraternity of men—including Joe Bussard, Chris King, John Tefteller, and others—who are helping to save and digitize the blues, country, jazz, and gospel records that ultimately gave seed to the rock, pop, and hip-hop we hear today. From Thomas Edison to Jack White, “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is an untold, intriguing story of the evolution of the recording formats that have changed the ways we listen to (and create) music. “Whether you’re already a 78 aficionado, a casual record collector, a crate-digger, or just someone…who enjoys listening to music, you’re going to love this book” (Slate).
Maske is a Haitian kreyol word, meaning to wear a mask. Todays selection of text and some of the most stunning pictures of Haitian Vodou comes from the book ‘Maske’ by Phyllis Galembo.
This acclaimed book with thrilling photographs, showing masquerade performers in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Zambia and Haiti is a celebration of African art, and a work of vivid artistic imagination. Photographs of carnival characters, mostly rooted in African religion and spirituality, are presented in chapters organised by tribal or carnival tradition each introduced by a short text by Galembo about the characters and costumes portrayed. The art of masquerade is introduced by art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu, (himself a participant in masquerade events during his childhood in Nigeria).
Within the African Diaspora, Haitian culture is known for its strong connection to Yoruba, Congo, and other Cross river cultures which, over centuries, slaves combined with influences from local Taino Indians and Europeans, and from Vodou.
For these photographs of traditional religious rituals Galembo went to Haiti, where she documented the traditional priests and priestesses of Vodou during Jacmel Kanaval, when troupes of musicians and dancers fill the streets. A wonderful yet dangerous event, the mood can swing wildy from exuberant joy to defiant aggression. Today, after the catastrophic earthquake of 12 January 2010, Jacmel Kanaval was cancelled and, as I write this, much of Haity including Jacmel, remains in ruins.
Published by Ten Speed Press; ISBN: 1580086764; 2005
and just one more Voodoo photograph, from Togo…from the book ‘Faces Of Africa’ by Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher -National Geographic Society USA
A Voodoo devotee from Togo surrenders himself to the spirit of his personal deity. His eyes roll upward and his pupils disappear, leaving only the whites. Depending on which direction they eyes roll, observers can tell what spirit has possessed him. This man, with his eyes rolled toward the sky, is possessed by Hebioso, the thunder god.
This seminal volume first published in 2009 is a landmark. The award-winning team of photographers Carol Beckwith / Angela Fisher and authors of African Ark present a stunning selection of 250 full-color portrait photographs from across Africa, spanning every region of the continent, from the Islamic Africans of the North, to the tribal cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, to the people of the South, in a compact edition of their acclaimed book.
Faces of Africa: Thirty Years of Photography
Beckwith, Carol / Fisher, Angela
Published by Natl Geographic Society 2009-01-06, 2009
ISBN 10: 1426204248 / ISBN 13: 9781426204241
At the same time a new fashion was emerging in the Saint-Hilaire and other clubs in Kinshasa. To dress perfectly like Europeans. It had begun 500 yards across the Congo River in Brazzaville but had spread to become a cult of elegance among young Kinshasans.
They were members of what they called La Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes – Sapeurs for short. At the heart of the vision was a dream of Paris. It had started in the 1950s with trying to dress like post-war Parisian existentialists – or “existos”, but now it was all about wearing labels like Dior.