Political strife can inspire great art, and Johnny Clegg’s internationally successful musical career represents that intersection of reality and creativity
. The British-born, South African-raised Clegg has spent almost four decades writing and performing songs that reflect the topical and personal turmoil of life in his evolving homeland
, pre- and post-apartheid.
There is a yearning quality to many of Clegg’s songs, declarations of love, frustration, hope and confusion that can be applied to South Africa’s slow path toward enlightenment, to personal and community relationships, to ever-changing life itself. The CD closes with a solemn but uplifting version of “Asimbonanga,” Clegg’s tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, himself a symbol of triumph over adversity and of the unquenchability of the human spirit.
Johnny Clegg is one of South Africa’s most celebrated sons. He is a singer, a songwriter, a dancer, anthropologist and a musical activist whose infectious crossover music, a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms, has exploded onto the international scene and broken through all the barriers in his own country. In France, where he enjoys a massive following, he is fondly called Le Zulu Blanc – the white Zulu.
Johnny’s haunting refrain Impi (meaning “Zulu warriors” or “War”) regularly echoes within any South African Rugby stadium which, together with his song Great Heart from the movie Jock of The Bushveld and The Crossing (written for Dudu Ndlovu, his Zulu dance partner in the Savuka era), has achieved anthem status with crowds in his home country. Other notable hits penned by Johnny Clegg include, amongst others, I Call Your Name, Scatterlings of Africa, African Sky Blue, Take My Heart Away, African Shadow Man, December African Rain, Kilimanjaro, Fever and many more.
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