as part 13 in the series Township Soul & Boogie I proudly present one of Letta Mbulu’s rarest albums in existence. It may be one of those records that people sometimes refer to as a ‘holy grail’. “I’ll Never Be The Same (Mosadi)” is without a doubt an ultra rare ‘lost’ Letta Mbulu LP, released only in South Africa on the Tamla Motown label in 1973.
Actually, this LP is a compilation of material that was previously released on several albums with some new songs added, probably recorded between 1970-1973. Parts of this album consists of songs that Letta recorded frequently as part of musical aggregates put together by Hugh Masekela – most spectacularly as part of the anonymous collective known as Africa ‘68 (which was also later credited as “The Zulus”), where she took the lead on “Uyaz’ Gabisa,” “Noyana,” “Aredze” (which she’d earler performed on Letta Mbulu Sings) and “Kedumetse.”
All tracks on this LP beautifully showcase Mbulu’s gorgeous vocal capacities and the heritage of Zulu songs stand out as proud witnesses of Letta’s South African origins.
Born and raised in Soweto, South Africa on 23 August 1942, she has been active as as singer since the 1960s. While still a teenager she toured with the musical King Kong, — but left for the United States in 1965 due to Apartheid.
In New York she connected with other South African exiles including Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa, and went on to work with Cannonball Adderley, David Axelrod and Harry Belafonte.
On screen, her singing can also be heard in Roots, The Color Purple (1985), and the 1973 film A Warm December,[ and she was a guest on a Season 6 episode of Soul Train. Mbulu also provided the Swahili chant in Michael Jackson’s single, “Liberian Girl”. Producer Quincy Jones has said of her: “Mbulu is the roots lady, projecting a sophistication and warmth which stirs hope for attaining pure love, beauty, and unity in the world.”
een 4 uur durende muziekspecial over Zuid Afrikaanse jazz, soul & funk door dj Eddy De Clercq & Frank Jochemsen. In dit programma gaat samensteller Eddy De Clercq terug naar de geschiedenis van jazz en de diverse invloeden van Nederland en Engeland in de muziek van Zuid Afrika. Vooral in Cape Jazz is dit duidelijk terug te horen maar ook in latere stijlen als township jive & kwela jazz zitten elementen welke Westers aandoen maar verweven worden met typische Zuid Afrikaanse melodieën en zang. Maar ook de excellente soul-jazz uit 1969 -een belangrijke periode in dit genre- komt aan bod, alsook de Mzansi House van 2014 naast enkele eigen producties van Eddy De Clercq & Friends, opgenomen in Zuid Afrika. Luister!
A 4 hour music special about South African music; jazz, soul & funk by dj Eddy De Clercq & Frank Jochemsen. Inthis program,compilerEddyDe Clercq dives deep intothe history of
South African jazz andthevarious influencesof the Netherlandsand England on the music ofthe country.Especially inCapeJazzthese influences are clear, butalsoin laterstylesastownshipjive&jazzkwelaWestern genres like R&B and jazz areinterwovenwith typicalSouthAfricanmelodiesandvocals. But also the excellentsoul-jazzof 1969–an important period in thisgenre-is discussed, as well as theMzansiHouse2014alongside someofEddyDe Clercq’s own productions, recorded in SouthAfrica.
The programme is presented in the Dutch language, but the music speaks for itself. Listen!
Vrije Geluiden Radio 6 20.00h-24.00h -26th July 2014-Theme: South Africa
Throughout the entire month of May Soul Safari will be listing field recordings, folk, private pressings, township jive & kwela jazz, African jazz, soul & boogie, mbanqaga,and much much more with absolutely no reserves.
Records that have been presented on these pages over the last five years are now on auction. So here is your change to grab some rare African vinyl as I am cleaning out my shelves to make room for new music.
Some highlights; a collection of ultra rare and seldom heard field recordings from ILAM, recorded by Hugh Tracey. These records were purchased many years ago directly from ILAM in South Africa from what was left of their unsold stock. All records come in their original cover with the labels attached to the back cover and are unplayed, in brand new mint condition.
More Soul Safari favs like great 45’s by jive kings The Soweto Boys, mbanqaga queens The Manzini Girls are now on auction.
Now that the new year lays ahead like a blank canvas, I find inspiration in a record by Ephat Mujuru, a Zimbabwean musician who excelled at playing the mbira. Nobody knows what 2014 will bring, but let this music guide the listener like a traveler on a long journey.
Ephat Mujuru (1950–2001), was a Zimbabwean musician, one of the 20th century’s finest players of the mbira, a traditional instrument of the Shona ethnic group of Zimbabwe.
The mbira dzavadzimu (the mbira of ancestral spirits) is a symbol of the traditional culture of Zimbabwe. The music of the mbira forms a link between the real and the spirit worlds, and the mbira player holds an important position within traditional society, being called upon through his music at ceremonies to evoke the particular spirit or ‘Sviriko’ to be called.
Ephat Mujuru came from a renowned mbira-playing family which can be traced back to the time of Monomatapa. Through playing at the family’s ‘bira’spirit ceremonies, the young Ephat was initiated into the secrets of the instrument by his grandfather, Sekuru Muchatera Mujuru, a great mbira player whom he wished as a boy to emulate. He tells of the conflict he found at school, where the mission teaching at the time denounced music as being a sin against God. This did not stop him from playing the music of his poeple, given by the great creator God Mwari, as a means of communicating with Him through ancestrial spirits.
Ephat Mujuru was a quiet, poetic man whose understanding and love of the music he played is matched only by his ability as a musician. His reputation was such that he was invited in 1980 for a lecture tour of the United States where he gave lectures/demonstrations at many of America’s leading universities.
The influence of mission school education and Western musical idiom had a negative effect for some time on traditional music, but in recent years this has given way to a renaissance of the mbira and its value as a link with the ancestry and culture of the Shona people.
The pieces posted here today are played on the mbira dzavadzimu (or in some instances the njari mbira) are accompanied by a second mbira, rattles (hosho), drums (ngoma), clapping (makwa) and singing (kuimba). The voice patterns are as important as the music and are divided into the mahongera, the deep, low voice; the huro, the high, yodelling voice; the kupurudza, the ululating voice (a woman’s part) and the kudeketera , the poetic narrative.
Both player and singer may intuitively modify music or lyrics and the interpretation of the traditional song may vary amongst musicians, but the ancient version known to all players will still be recognisable.
The leading vocalist of the group is Charles Gushungo whose exceptional voice and command of all three traditional song patterns is widely acknowledged and evidenced here.
This song tells the story of Chipembere, the rhinoceros, feared for his powerful turn of speed. It is sung for a traveller embarking on a long journey, and the music imparts to him the speed and strength of the rhino, that he may accomplish his journey with ease.
The eternal myth of paradise, as old as man himself, is retold here in the song Guru Uswa. It tells the story of the Africa of mythical times, a land of milk and honey, yet at the same time it sings of Zimbabwe, the realisation of the promised land.
A story of misfortune and the power of the music of the spirits to intervene. A man wanders lost and alone, calling out “Ndoziwa Ripi- what shall I do? My family is dead and I am alone”. As he wanders he plays a plaintive song on his mbira. The chapungu eagle, bird of the spirits, appears in the sky and guides him to a settlement of people. Hearing the notes of the mbira, the people welcome him with singing and dancing. He is accepted into their community and revered for his ability to play the mbira.
text from the liner notes of The Spirit of the People -Ephat Mujuru Ensemble plays Mbira music from Zimbabwe
Busuku Obuhle is the translation in Zulu of the Christmas classic “Silent Night”.
Sung here by 500 African School Children recorded during service at St. Charles Church at Victory Park on 30th November 1971, in Johannesburg, South Africa. In collaboration with the Mission Schools Feeding Wellfare Organisation of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 500 African children singing to the glory of God and for their and other children’s suppers.
“Busuku Obuhle (Silent Night)” is also the mood at Soul Safari for a peaceful Yuletide 2014.
At the same time I would like to send my best wishes for the New Year 2014 to all readers of this blog.
May all your dreams and wishes come true. Let peace reign!
The father of a nation. The holder of the flame of hope and democracy. One of the truely great leaders of the free world.
De houder van die Vlam van De Hoop en die Demokrasie. Een van die groot regtig leiders van die vrye wêreld.
Let freedom reign.
* From time to time, in every nation in the world, a figure emerges from the masses -pulled up by his own bootstraps- and catches the imagination and affection of the people. Mostly they are tough guys and flouters of authority, but often they have courage and become an icon of a nation.
just unearthed this beautiful single with one side sung in the Doo Wop Jive style and a surprising b-side. The Bachelors and Thoko Tomo is a South African vocal group unknown to me, maybe a reader can shine a light on their origins? The label mentions Jive and as far as I can find out this must be Zulu Jive while the b-side is sung in English.
‘I Got Troubles’ reminds me of Isicathamiya by the likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, even American Gospel. Such heavenly voices! This single was probably released in the early 1960’s following an earlier release as shellac 78 rpm. This was normal practice in the days when the 45 single format replaced the old breakable 78’s. The label New Sound is a subsidiary of Gallo Records, hence the image of the cock in the logo.