hey sista, go sista, soul sista -Township Soul & Boogie

township soul & boogie logo final

In the middle of the 70s, American disco was imported to South Africa, and disco beats were added to soul music, which helped bring a halt to popular mbaqanga bands such as the Mahotella Queens. In 1976, South African children rebelled en masse against apartheid and governmental authority, and a vibrant, youthful counterculture was created, with music as an integral part of its focus. Styles from before the 1970s fusion of disco and soul were not widely regarded, and were perceived as being sanctioned by the white oppressors. Few South African bands gained a lasting success during this period, however, with the exception of the Movers, who used marabi elements in their soul.
In the middle of the 70s, American Disco was imported to South Africa, and Disco beats were added to Soul music, which helped bring a halt to popular Mbaqanga bands such as the Mahotella Queens. In 1976, South African children rebelled en masse against apartheid and governmental authority, and a vibrant, youthful counterculture was created, with music as an integral part of its focus. Styles from before the 1970s fusion of Disco and Soul were not widely regarded, and were perceived as being sanctioned by the white oppressors. Few South African bands gained a lasting success during this period, however, with the exception of The Movers, who used Marabi elements in their Soul.  Our friends at Matsuli have posted an excellent bio on The Movers so I refer to that page for more information on the band.

Olga Mvicane

Olga Mvicane played only a small role in the movie Sarafina! (1992), a story of the courage and spirit of the children of South Africa’s townships in their resistance to apartheid, starring Miriam Makeba and Whoopie Goldberg, but Olga’s records were far more popular than her acting.
Here are a few rare 45 rpm’s by Olga Mvicane, all sides produced by Marks Mankwane.

Olga Mvicane -Gqobokani labelOlga Mvicane -Gqobokani 1979

Olga Mvicane -Ndiyazisola

Olga Mvicane -Ndeyelekini

Olga Mvicane -Ndeyikeleni 1978

Patricia Majalisa

Patricia MajalisaWhen a very young Patricia Majalisa left her home town, East London, in the Eastern Cape in 1978, she had a dream of becoming one of the  most successful local pop female singer. After an initial ten years struggle to have a niche for herself in the music industry, ‘Lady Luck’ came      her way when she met hit producer Dan Tshanda. Like all other artists desperate for a recording deal, they were a frequent sight at the old Gallo Studios in Kerk Street. Fortunately, ace producer Hamilton Nzimande from Gallo Records, listened to their demo tape and he liked what he’d heard. That culminated in them recording their debut album ‘Mr Tony’ which although not a hit, made them realise their potential. The late Mr Nzimande did not give up on them.

This made everyone see that the group had the potential to make it  and that’s when Ray Phiri of Stimela give them the name ‘Splash’ . This really splashed them with the production of the hit album ‘Peacock’ .  As the album attained sales of more than 50 000 copies,  producer Hamilton Nzimande decided Patricia should do her first solo album ‘Cool Down’.  The album sold Gold, that’s when she knew then that she had arrived and the goal she was seeking.

Her second and third albums, ‘Witch Doctor’ and ‘Gimba’ earned her platinum discs with sales in excess of 50 000 copies each.  This shows that Patricia’s talent is not something that fades away, having been in this industry over 16 years she is still hot and her message to youth should be taken seriously.

Patrica Majalisa -swingono

Patricia Majalisa -Swigono 1987

Patrica Majalisa -witch doctor

Patricia Majalisa -Witch Doctor 1987

disco-ball green

Mavis Maseko, Blondie Makhene & The Movers

…and to finish this post here are three 45 rpm records by The Movers, produced by David Thekwane,  each with a different vocalist;  Mavis Maseko, Blondie Makhene and an uncredited male singer .  Soul with a dash of Marabi while the organ and saxophone remain a prominent part of the sound. Each record brings out the diverse qualities of The Movers; they can play “cross-over” Pop, Soul and Disco and still add their own unique touch.

Mavis Maseko -ngonilie mama

Mavis Maseko -Ngonile Mama 1978

Mavis Maseko -Sebenzani 1978

Blondie Makhene with The Movers -hopeless love

Blondie Makhene with The Movers -Hopeless love 1970

The Movers -give me a day

The Movers -Give me a day 1981

afro_funk logo by  brev87 + township soul & boogie

South African Soul Divas pt 3 Dolly Rathebe, Mabel Mafuya, Nancy Jacobs, Eva Madison


1. An operatic prima donna.

2. A very successful singer of nonoperatic music: a soul diva

here is Part 3 in the South African Soul Divas series. I admit that the singers in these series are not  ‘Soul’ singers like  American counterparts  Aretha Franklin and  Lyn Collins et al.  Their specific way of singing could be described as Jazz,  Mbqanga or Township Soul as well.   But they sing from their souls and have often lived a life of hard times  under the brutal repression and exploitative injustice during Apartheid days.

Despite of all this, a singer like Dolly Rathebe developed her artistic career and became a well respected and established artist. Dolly Rathebe was one of the most prominent singers in the 1950’s,  together with Miriam Makeba and Dorothy Masuka.  She was also an actress who starred in a few movies.

dolly rathebe foto jurgen schadeberg

Dolly Rathebe 1949 -photo by Jürgen Schadeberg

Dolly Rathebe was born in Randfontein in 1928 in South Africa but grew up in Sophiatown which she describes as having been “a wonderful place”. She was discovered around 1948 when a talent scout from Gallo approached her and it wasn’t long before she became a star.  Rathebe became the top jazz and blues singer of her generation and considered so beautiful that a metaphor was coined for her. ‘It’s dolly’ meant ‘it’s wonderful’ and was an abbreviation of the Afrikaans ‘S’Dolly se boude’ (it’s Dolly’s tights).

She rose to fame in 1949 aged 19 when she appeared as a nightclub singer in the movie “Jim Comes To Jo’burg ” by director Jürgen Schadeberg, the first film to portray urban Africans in a positive light.  But despite it’s success, ‘Jim comes to Jo’burg’ also became a scornful metaphor among black intellectuals for all back-to-the-homelands literature. And there was  musical cross-fertilisation between urban and traditional styles. Rathebe scored an early hit with the song ‘Sindi’, a bluesed up version of a neo-traditional concertina tune ‘Good Street’, dedicated to a Sophiatown thoroughfare. The record was taken back to the United States by Sidney Poitier and picked up by Johnny Hodges under the title ‘Something to Put Your Foot to’.

When Alfred Herbert’s African Jazz and Variety show opened in 1954, Dolly appeared and stayed as Herbert’s main attraction for many years. She became an international star when she sang with the Afro-jazz group, the Elite Swingsters in 1964 and one of the first performers to make an impact in black TV drama in the late 1970’s. Her career suffered, like all others, from the intensifying repression of the 1980’s, but in the late 1990’s, she began to tour nationally and internationally again.

dolly rathebe and the inkspots

Dolly Rathebe with The African Inkspots -Unomeva 1954

After Sophiatown was flattened by the Apartheid government in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Rathebe found it more and more difficult to perform, especially after an 8pm curfew was imposed. She moved with her family to Cape Town township, and to survive, ran a shebeen for many years.


Elite Swingsters -Thulandiville 1960

the elite swingsters -soul blues label

here’s a rare instrumental Elite Swingsters -Soul Blues

In 1989 she re-united with the Elite Swingsters to perform in a film that was set in 1950s Johannesburg. In her latter years Rathebe was a leading light in Pretoria’s Ikageng Women’s League. In 2001 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the South African Music Awards.

In 2003, at the age of 75, Dolly appeared in a Johannesburg show, Sof’Town, A Celebration!, where she sang “Randfontein”, the story of a drunk miner returning home to find his wife in bed with another man, who is then beaten and chased out.

She was awarded the South African Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for her excellent contribution to music and the performing arts and commitment to the ideals of justice, freedom and democracy in 2004. Dolly Rathebe died on 16 September 2004 from a stroke.

Sharon Katz performs in a legendary house concert at Miriam Makeba’s home on December 26th, 2003 at a party  with Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe & Abigail K


Mabel Mafuya

mabel mafuya & the star queens -iMini label

Mabel Mafuya & The Star Queens -iMini

Mabel Mafuya & The Green Lanterns -Nomathemba 1956

Mabel Mafuya was one of the most popular and prolific vocalists of the mid-to-late 1950’s. Sadly, a year or so after the recording of ‘nomahtemba (a woman’s first name)’, a botched goiter operation badly affected her voice and thereafter her musical career began an inexorable downhill decline. Mabel was cast as one of the ‘Chord Sisters’ in ‘King Kong’ and later traveled with the show to London in 1961. After returning to South Africa, she decided to make a name for herself as an actress.  Musically speaking, Mabel is best remembered today for her novelty hit ‘hula hoop’ but ‘nomahtemba (a woman’s first name)’ is her masterpiece. The song’s narrative of broken ties would have encapsulated the dislocating experience of rural-to-urban migrancy for many township residents. Mabel’s searing vocal delivers the message with a direct conviction and intensity that has almost completely disappeared from any form of modern music.

Nancy Jacobs & Her Sisters -Meadowlands 1955

The rather shy and reserved Nancy Jacobs enjoyed a succesful singing career for a few years in the mid 50’s before she married in Cape Town and retired from public life. Her ‘Sisters’ were in reality her mother and first cousin. “Meadowlands” is one of South Africa’s great evergreens, an instantly recognizable melody with a fascinating history.

Eva Madison -an african lullaby

Eva Madison and the Bertha Gray Singers -An African Lullaby (tula baba)1963

Little is known about Eva Madison and The Bertha Gray Singers but this single published in 1963 features a famous lullaby that mothers use to help their crying babies to relax and then sleep.

Tula Tu Tula baba Tula sana Tul’umam ‘uzobuya ekuseni Tula Tu Tula baba Tula sana Tul’umam ‘uzobuya eku…

YEBO! on my iPod

the original songs in their full length can be heard in previous posts.  Zulu Jive, Marabi Jive, Xhosa Vocal…soul and jazz grooves with an unique South African flavour  were selected and highlighted  in the YEBO! series. Thank you for all your feedback.

Reader NickAll I can say is… wow. I love the soul and jazz-infused Makgona Tsohle Band 45rpm, it is one I had never come across previously. Thank you for sharing these musical treasures, they are all sublime and are all very much appreciated.”

all 20 selections of YEBO! in a 33 minute Mix

1- Isazi – Ingabonga Isudu
2- Lazarus Kgagudi And The Neighbours – Mlamu Wami
3- Irene & The Sweet Melodians – Nawulilela
4- Retsi & The Jacaranda Girls – Mongezi
5- Olive Masinga – Indlela Enhle
6- Izintombi Zesi Manje Maje – Lobola Mgca
7- Retsi Pule – s’Dula
8- Korrie Moraba – Ngixulaelawena
9- Indoba Band – Keep On Jiving (Pt 1)
10- Sophie Thapedi – Mabitso Abatho
11- Retsi & The Jacaranda Girls – Manikiniki
12- Lazarus Kgagudi And The Neighbours – Amadoda Asemgodini
13- Makgona Tsohle Band – Take Your Time
14- Patience Africa – Sala Sithanda
15- Kabasa – Burning Splinters
16- Dark City Sisters – Kudelangibuya Khona
17- Vusi Nkosi With Mabone Boys – Amazambane
18- Zacks Nkosi – Kwasibasa
19- The Alexander Shamber Boys – Finish
20- Vusi Nkosi With Mabone Boys – Superman Jive

Download the mix here: YEBO! on my iPod

African Jazz -Elijah Nkwanyane, African Swingsters

music and rhythms of Africa

this rare double gatefolded EP reveals some of South Africa’s most popular tunes and key players in the formation of South African Jazz and popular styles like mbaqanga and kwela; Elijah’s Rhythm Kings (Elijah Nkwanyane), African Swingsters, Benoni Flute Quintet and The Alexandra Shamber Boys.

music from Africa binnenkant

In 1955 jazz lovers formed the Sophiatown Modern Jazz Club, which on Sundays organized a number of jam sessions, led by Pinocchio Mokaleng, in the Odin cinema in which leading musicians like Mackay Davashe, Elijah Nkwanyane, Kippie Moeketsi, Ntemi Piliso (saxophone player in the current African Jazz Pioneers) and many others took part. In Sophiatown for the first time in South African history black and white jazz musicians could meet on such a regular basis on common platform, a unique and typically Sophiatown fact. From these jam sessions emerged a very successful, star-studded band, the Jazz Epistles, featuring among others Kippie Moeketsi (alto), Jonas Gwangwa (trombone), Dollar Brand, now Abdullah Ibrahim (piano), Hugh Masekela (trumpet), Johnny Gertse (guitar) and Makhaya Ntshokr (drums). They laid the basis for a period of modern South African jazz, which was developed further in the 1960s. Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela were members of the only African high school jazz band ever formed in South Africa – the Huddleston Jazz Band, which was based in St. Peter’s secondary School, Rossettenville, later closed by the government.

Elijah’s Rhythm Kings -Elijah Special

Elijah’s Rhythm Kings -Bop Special

Under a wide interpretation of the pass system, musicians were classified as vagrants. A black musician could only be semi-professional, for they worked in the daytime and performed after hours. For instance, the father of mbaqanga music Isaac ‘Zacks’  Nkosi worked for Gallo, not as a musician, but packing records in their storeroom.  Spokes Mashiyane, the international penny whistle star, who gained world recognition, similarly worked for Trutone Records until Union Artist released him. The penny whistle became one of the symbols of black South African music. Its origins date back to the pre-colonial period of South African history, when herdsmen made instruments out of reeds. It became popular in the 1950’s, thanks to the film ‘Magic Garden’, in which Willard Cele played it.

Willard Cele was born and raised in a segregated South African township, although he was disabled, and although he died young, his impact on South African music was immense. Cele’s innovation was to turn a flute or pennywhistle sideways in the mouth, which created a “thick” sound and allowed the player to vary the tone and range of the instrument far beyond its designed abilities.

music and rhythms of Africa label 2

African Swingsters -Section Z Special

African Swingsters -Liyaduma

excerpt from an original article “A reflection on music” by Jonas Gwangwa and Fulco van Aurich

Willard Cele~ Leon Jackson, All Music Guide

YEBO! Zulu Vocal & Jive, Marabi Jive pt 3

…thank you all for the support and for listening to the music on these pages.

This week  starts with another slice of Zulu Jive and Marabi Jive  as featured in the YEBO! series…part 3

there’s little information on the artists so I hope that the labels and mp3’s  of these rare 45’s bring some joy….

Olive Masinga -indlela enhle

Izintombi Zesi Manje Maje -lobola mgca

Indoba Band -keep on jiving (part 1)

Retsi & The Jacaranda Girls -manikiniki

Makgona Tsohle Band -Marabi blues