South Africa’s Fusion of Music

Kirstenbosch-concerts

The South African music scene is as diverse as its Rainbow nation and has some truly original sounds with both African and Western influences. Its music scene is focused mostly around four major centres of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein. Bloem’s music scene focusses predominantly on metal and Afrikaans genres, whereas Jozi, the Mother City and Durbs have more diverse music genres. Cape Town is considered a hot bed for the underground music scene, generally more experimental than the music produced in the other centres. All four are breeding grounds for new local talent and the continued promotion of existing bands.

South African bands generally have strong ties with their local fans. Even bands, who managed to break through in the European and/or American music scene, like The Parlotones, Macstanley, Jack Parow, Yoav, Goldfish, Freshlyground and Johnny Clegg, come back to South Africa as often as they can to touch base with their fans at home. They often play at venues like Moyo at Kirstenbosch Gardens in their Summer & Winter Concerts series.
Freshlyground has a unique Afro-fusion style that blends elements of traditional South Africa music, like Kwela and folk music, with blues, jazz and Indie rock. After some huge successes at home early on in their careers and an MTV Music Award in 2006 for Best African Act, their breakthrough came with the official anthem of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Waka Waka performed together with Shakira.

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In 2003, The Parlotones self-released their first album Episoda. Two years later, their second release Radio Controlled Robot became a mainstream success and won Best Rock Album in the 2006 South African Music Awards. Their song Beautiful was used in an Irish TV commercial, which led to their first European deal. Their overseas success is now so huge that in 2012 they announced that the band would move to Los Angeles in California.

Yoav has an original style featuring his own voice and an acoustic guitar, which he uses to create electronica style beats. His debut album Charmed and Strange was released in early 2008 and a couple of years later his song Adore Adore was featured in an episode of The Mentalist. Since his first album, he headlined many concerts in Canada, the US and Europe. He even achieved a #1 song in Russia, where he received a special Rock Alternative Music Prize award in recognition of his achievements.

Simphiwe Dana with her unique combination of jazz, rap and traditional music, has been hailed as the new Miriam Makeba. She won the South African Music Awards for Best Newcomer in 2005 with her first album Zandusile and two years later won the Best Female Artist with the song The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street.

Jack Parow is a rapper whose big inspiration was Snoop Dogg. Hence he started rapping in English, but realised quickly that Afrikaans was more his thing. His style and music are not always appreciated in the smaller towns and rural areas where he performs, which on occasion creates some conflict. His songs Cooler as Ekke and Die Vraagstuk were hugely popular not only in South Africa, but also in Flanders and the Netherlands. Parow’s popularity is a result of the ever-growing sub-culture in South Africa known as Zef, which Parow describes as a “kind of like Posh, but the opposite of Posh”.

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When you are visiting South Africa, try and fit in a concert in one of the many venues around for example Cape Town. A Summer concert in Kirstenbosch botanical gardens is a great family event visited by young and old, but don’t forget to pack your picnic basket with at least a nice bottle of chilled white.

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