Johnny Clegg

Johnny Clegg

In 2011, Johnny Cleggtoured the USA and Canada, covering 30 cities in North America and 9 in Canada, with sold out shows in New York, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Calgary and Edmonton.

On 5th April 2011, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree from CUNY (City University of NY). The South African Consulate and many other dignitaries were in attendance at this event.

Johnny's much awaited new album, Human, is due for release in SA in the next few weeks.

In the first half of 2010 Johnny recorded a 13 part documentary series, A Country Imagined, for SABC2 which was broadcast in mid 2010 with a re-broadcast currently being screened.

In June 2010, Johnny released the ultimate collection of songs, Spirit is the Journey celebrating 30 years of Johnny Clegg. This 30th Anniversary compilation is a double cd of his best-loved songs combined with an exclusive DVD entitled "My Favourite Zulu Street Guitar Songs", which includes Johnny's personal take on the various traditional street guitar songs that influenced him, what they mean to him and then performing them acoustically with some of his hostel mates. The DVD is a rare look inside Johnny's musical mind and completely exclusive to this release.


By combining African music structures with Celtic folk music and international rock sounds, Johnny pioneered a new and unique sound, establishing himself as South Africa's biggest musical export. From Europe to the States, from Australia to Potchefstroom, audiences in sold out venues have danced to "Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World", "Crocodile Love", "I Call Your Name", "Take My Heart Away", and "African Sky Blue".

JOHNNY CLEGG, born in Rochdale, England in 1953 was raised in his mother's native land of Zimbabwe before immigrating to South Africa at the age of nine.

At the age of 14, Johnny began to learn to play the guitar. Through his interest he met CHARLIE MZILA, a Zulu flat cleaner who played street music near Clegg's home. For two years Johnny learned the fundamentals of Zulu music and traditional Zulu INHLANGWINI dancing with Charlie. He was 13 years old when he saw the dancers for the first time.

Equipped with his guitar, Johnny accompanied Mzila to all the migrant labour haunts – from hostels to rooftop shebeens. However, Johnny's involvement with black musicians often led to him being arrested for trespassing on government property and for contravening the Group Areas Act, (an apartheid law forcing different races to keep to their own residential and recreational areas). In this difficult and complex political landscape, Johnny managed to navigate a path, which enabled him to enter the hidden world of the Zulu migrant labourers. These men lived in a number of huge barrack-like hostels around Johannesburg, serving Johannesburg's insatiable appetite for cheap black labour. During this period he developed a reputation as a competent Zulu guitarist in the MASIKANDE (from the Afrikaans "Musikant") tradition.

This reputation reached the ears of SIPHO MCHUNU, a migrant Zulu worker who had come up to Johannesburg in 1969 looking for work. Intrigued he challenged Johnny to a guitar competition, sparking off a friendship and musical partnership destined to alter the face of South African music. Sipho was born in Kranskop, Natal, in 1951. Although he had no musical training as a young boy, he had made himself a variety of musical instruments; his favourite being a three stringed guitar fashioned out of a paraffin tin. Soon he became extremely adept and well versed in Zulu street guitar music. He later also formed a traditional Zulu dance team and found a vast outlet for his creative energies. Sipho investigated this young white boy who danced and also played Zulu street music and looked him up at his apartment one day. A strong friendship developed out of this meeting as for the first time Johnny was playing with a street musician his own age. Johnny was sixteen and Sipho eighteen.

Together they worked, often subjected to racial abuse, threats of violence and police harassment. As places where they could perform were limited by the apartheid laws, they had to stick to the street and private venues such as church and university halls. When Johnny finished his schooling he went to University, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Social Anthropology and pursued an academic career for four years lecturing at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Natal.

In 1976 Johnny and Sipho secured a major recording deal and had their first hit sing entitled, "Woza Friday". A period of development followed, during which Johnny worked on the concept of bringing together English lyrics and Western melodies with Zulu musical structures. The formation of JULUKA, meaning "sweat" in Zulu, was in total contravention of the Cultural Segregation laws of the time, which emphasized the separation of language, race and culture. (Juluka was the name of Sipho's favourite bull, because like all migrants, Sipho practiced some cattle farming in the rural areas). Their music was subjected to censorship and banning and their only way to access an audience was through live touring. In late 1979 their first album "Universal Men" was released.

Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu launched their second album "African Litany" in early 1981. Although their work had been largely ignored by the South African Broadcasting Corporation due to Juluka's mixing of languages and African and Western music forms, "African Litany" became a major breakthrough Album for the band through word of mouth and live performances. "Ubuhle Bemvelo" was their immediate follow-up Album and was entirely in the Zulu language, but mixing Western and African styles of music.

In 1982 and '83, Juluka toured the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany and Scandinavia. In 1983 they released "Work for All" and in late 1984 they released "Musa Ukungilandela".

Juluka split in 1985 – Sipho went back to his farm in Zululand where he was born.

In 1986, Johnny went on to form another crossover band "SAVUKA" (We have risen), mixing African music with Celtic folk music and international rock sounds, and the album "3rd World Child" was borne. In 1987 SAVUKA was the leading world music group touring the francophone countries.

Three years later, Savuka's hard work and tenacity had finally paid off and the band was reaping its rewards, with an ever growing fan base and phenomenal album sales! By the end of 1989 Savuka had sold over 1 million copies of their debut album, and their 2nd release had already sold over 700 000 units. The band's popularity was reflected in the music charts, and in an incredible moment on the album and singles charts, SAVUKA held the #1 and #2 position on the album charts with the 1st and second album at the same time, and on the singles charts held the #1 and #7 position with their singles " Asimbonanga " and "Scatterlings of Africa". In 1993 Savuka received the recognition they deserved by being nominated for a Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.

This was a momentous achievement for the group out of South Africa and in 1990 they received the "Victoires" award from the French recording industry for the biggest selling international artists over two years. They also received in that year the world music award for the biggest selling world music group internationally. In 1990 they completed a nine-month world tour and in 1991 took off six months to rest.

SAVUKA went to record their fourth album and this, their last album was nominated for a Grammy Award for the best world music album in 1993. The band broke up in 1994.

Johnny and Sipho began looking at reforming JULUKA. This came to fruition in 1996 when they went into the studio and they commenced recording "YA VUKA INKUNZI". Johnny Clegg continues to collaborate with Sipho Mchunu from time to time.

In October 2002 Johnny Clegg released a new solo CD titled "New World Survivor", and completed a very successful run of a theatre show, A South African Story, in South Africa playing to over 40,000 people in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

In July 2003, Johnny Clegg embarked on a very successful tour of France and Germany. At one festival, 140km north of Paris, Johnny Clegg played to 60,000 people, breaking all previous attendance records for this biennial event. In Germany, Johnny blew the crowds away and had to perform no less than three encores for the enthralled crowd before they would leave. Early 2004 saw Johnny Performing A South African Story Part II, to sell out audiences in South Africa. He then embarked on a successful three month tour of Europe and USA.

Johnny released his much awaited new album "One Life" in 2006, which features his first ever Zulu-Afrikaans crossover song as well as the first song (ever?) written in three languages French, Zulu and English. One life is an album containing both political and personal songs. Johnny says, "We are all given one life which is precious and unique. At the same time, all Life on the planet is inter -linked and connected into a single planetary force. The private and political choices we make affect how our ONE LIFE influences the greater whole and so the songs look at the politics of betrayal, love, power, masculinity, the feminine, and survival/work. Our one life is connected to the One Life. We each have a story to tell and many of the songs take on a narrative structure to emphasize the story telling nature of how we make meaning in the world. Sometimes this is in the first person, sometimes as a report."

2006 saw Johnny performing sold out "One Life" concerts across the country. He was backed by the Soweto Gospel Choir on the shows at the Nelson Mandela Theatre - these shows were recorded, and later released as a Live CD and DVD "Johnny Clegg Live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre".

In the same year, Johnny also launched his community website which features a monthly newsletter from Johnny, a series of documentary DVD's on Zulu Guitar music, Zulu war dancing, many other cultural artifacts from Zulu fighting sticks, pots and other items which shape Johnny Clegg's life as well as all the standard CD's, DVD's, T-shirts, caps, jackets and other products related to his music – some of which are only available from this website.

Johnny is known for his live and energetic stage performances, and in 2008 he produced a new show "HEART OF THE DANCER" which looked at the role of dance in Clegg's career and how certain songs were shifted towards choreographic presentations when they were played live. It also looked at the history of one particular dance that became widely used in the JULUKA and SAVUKA periods. Once again these shows were sold out and extra shows had to be added!

The CUNY School of Law bestowed an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Jonathan “Johnny” Clegg, the renowned South African musician, human rights activist and anthropologist, in a ceremony at University offices April 5.

Best known for songs such as “Asimbonanga” (“We have not seen him”) — a tribute to Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge, Neill Aggett and other anti-apartheid heroes and martyrs — Clegg and his bands Juluka (the first mixed-race band in South Africa, formed with the Zulu musician Sipho Mchunu,) and Savuka defied apartheid laws by performing for racially mixed audiences, resulting in numerous arrests for Clegg and his band members. Earlier in his career, Clegg studied Zulu dance — which he would later incorporate exuberantly in his live performances — and lectured on anthropology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

CUNY Board Vice Chairperson Philip Alfonso Berry praised Clegg and his melding of music, activism and philanthropy as the essence of ubuntu, the African humanist concept of the individual’s interconnectedness to the community and the world.

Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Alexandra Logue said that in combining Western and Zulu rhythms and stimulating audiences to think more deeply about racial identity and justice, Clegg embodied values similar to bedrock CUNY principles, such as the celebration of diversity and the equality of opportunity.

Michelle Anderson, dean of the CUNY School of Law, poignantly highlighted the school’s longstanding relationship to South Africa. She noted that the investiture ceremony for Clegg fell 15 years and a week after the school’s second dean, Haywood Burns, and faculty member Shanara Gilbert died in a car accident while working for post-apartheid judicial reform in South Africa.

Clegg said it was appropriate that his honorary degree was a doctor of laws, for he has spent a lifetime questioning “why the fence exists,” alluding to the plethora of laws and institutions (a “legal Lego set”) that legislated the separation of races and social spaces in South Africa. He said he found it fitting that his journey to “find a way around the fence” had brought him to CUNY.

Jesse Clegg

In the space of two short years, Jesse Clegg has streaked into the top of the radio charts and into the hearts of music fans throughout South Africa.

The vehicle for this has been the 22-year-old's debut album, 'When I Wake Up' which was released in 2008 and has, so far, produced an enviable five radio singles. It's also sold gold (20 000) and is heading for platinum status – a not inconsiderable feat for an out-and-out pop-rock album in a market where these genres have to fight for media attention and airtime space.

The success of 'When I Wake Up' is also no small achievement for a singer and songwriter who only revealed his work to close friends and family when the album was virtually done. "I was very tentative in those early days," the Johannesburg born-and-raised artist now reveals.

Listening to Jesse's debut, however, there is no trace of that initial hesitation when the Wits University law student first pushed his creative work out into the public. The first single - the elegant ballad "Today" - rapidly established Jesse as a fan's favourite: on its release to radio mid-August 2008 it debuted at number one on Joburg radio station, Highveld's "Homebrew" Chart, a considerable feat for a debut artist with a debut single and an historical first for this popular, public-voted chart.

From there on in, Jesse's initial strong showing on radio proved no fluke and three more chart-topping singles - "Girl Lost In The City"; "Heartbreak Street" and "End of the Rainbow" - followed. Between them, these self-penned songs more than showcased Jesse's ability to move with ease between more rock-orientated material to pop, as well as his innate feel for a memorable hook. 'When I Wake Up' was supported an increasing number of live shows – including sell-out shows at the Joburg Theatre in both 2009 and 2010, and a slot at the 2009 Mandela Day concert in New York City, featuring Steve Wonder, Alicia Keys, Baaba Maal, Black Eyed Peas and many others.

Against this background, it was no surprise when Jesse earned two prestigious South African Music Award nominations in 2009 – for Record Of The Year and Music Video Of The Year, both for his supercharged debut single, "Today". This was followed by another Record of the Year nomination in 2010 – this time for "Heartbreak Street".

It took a while for the initially reclusive music talent but, late 2010, Jesse has accepted that music is the only career he craves and he's looking ahead to the coming years as a time to cement his signature sound. In pursuit of this, Jesse took time out in 2010 and early 2011 to record songs for his second album in Canada with Grammy Award-winning producer, David Bottrill (Muse, Tool, Staind, Silverchair, Placebo).

The new material is everything you would expect from someone whose debut made a mark right out of the gate – confident, and increasingly sure-footed. Still, for fans of this genuine talent, there are plenty of surprises awaiting when Jesse Clegg again steps into the public spotlight with his second solo offering sometime in 2011.

Album biography

With his second solo record, platinum-selling artist Jesse Clegg takes a bold step forward to create a rock 'n roll record that is as true to the genre's roots as it is visionary.

Titled 'Life On Mars', the album sees Clegg make a pretty astonishing leap from his 2008 debut, "When I Wake Up" – which, in spite of the substantial sales, radioplay and nominations it earned, was now clearly only a first step into an exciting music career for the 22-year-old.

"If I can point to one thing that has changed in-between 'When I Wake Up' to 'Life On Mars' is that I now know that, no matter how hard or challenging the journey may be, my life lies in music," confides Clegg.

It's understandable that Clegg's initial foray into music may have been tentative: a deep thinker, Clegg left school, with the idea of immersing himself in law. He's still intent on completing his LLB at the University of Witswatersrand in Joburg, but over the past year he has poured his heart and soul into recording "Life On Mars".

There's also no doubt that holding Clegg back in the early stages of his music career was the not inconsequential matter of his lineage. As the son of one of South Africa's most prolific and highly regarded musicians, Johnny Clegg, it wasn't easy to present his own gifts without the context of his father's enormously successful career.

Still, one listen to the track 'Life On Mars' and it's clear that Clegg's talent is genuine. And large. The leaps he's made in songwriting, singing and performing are nothing short of huge – and the album displays a remarkable confidence and vision.

Indeed, it's the latter – Clegg's ability to calibrate each of songs with utmost care to the vision he has for it – that's the most striking aspect of 'Life On Mars'. It's also what lends it a deeply satisfying diversity. Gone is the attachment to rock-lite ballads and instead, Clegg's sense of lyrical drama, with music to match, is on superb display throughout his second record.

Aiding him in executing this is Grammy Award-winning producer, David Bottrill (Muse, Tool, Staind, Silverchair, Placebo) – with whom Clegg found a "meeting of the minds" during the recording process in Canada that took place late 2010 and again, in early 2011.

"What I loved about working with Dave is his commitment to starting the songs with the kind-of organic recording process that you just don't see much of these days," says Clegg. So whether it meant recording guitars through six different amps, each miked three times to capture different elements of guitar sounds, or recording the snare drum in a myriad of different ways, there was a primal rawness to the production of 'Life On Mars' that Bottrill then used to create the sonic expanse of each song.

Clegg also responded instantly to Bottrill's insistence that the production always serve the purpose of enhancing the emotional core of each song. "Dave believes that no matter what the style of the song, the production must always bring out the core emotional touchpoint, or else you are in danger of losing your listeners."

Clegg says that Bottrill challenged him in the studio in a way that's had a real impact on how he approaches his music now. "He would push me to motivate why I wanted certain things in a song and if I wasn't able to offer a good enough explanation he would move on. It was challenging at times but I am incredibly pleased with the outcome that you can hear on the album and the creative growth that Dave encouraged in me."

Clegg's creative growth during 'Life On Mar's recording is a thing to marvel at.

Whether it's the classic ballad, "In Black and White", or the album's first single, the super-charged rock 'n roll number, "Clarity", the songs Clegg offers up on his second record hold little secrets and hidden treasures to be discovered through many listens. That nothing here can be taken at surface level is understandable for an individual who's in love with the philosophy course that he's taken as part of his studies and who, when asked to create something as part of a study on George Orwell's 1984 came up with the first half of the album standout "Winston (Another Time)". For fans who came to love Clegg through the set of songs on 'When I Wake Up', the latter song is likely to be one of the biggest surprises on 'Life on Mars'. Comprised mostly of minor chords and showcasing the enormous growth in Clegg's voice, the song delivers a mesmerising soundscape that flicks between different tempos, a reflection of how it was written. "I wrote the first part as a response to a creative challenge given to us at varsity around the book, 1984, and then left it at that," Clegg reveals. "Already it was experimental but the second part I wrote later to complete the song makes it one of my most complex track I think."

Clegg's spot on, in the way he sees "Winston (Another Time)". But it's not the only dense track on 'Life On Mars'. The album is replete with intriguing songs – like "Slow Burn", a scorching number that keeps delivering meanings, with each listen. Another is 'Disappearing Act", a dark, cynical look at love that's reflected in the claustrophobic, sludgy treatment given to the song. Indeed, love is recurring lyrical theme for Clegg and yet he manages to avoid clichés about this well-worn subject on songs like the quite gorgeous "Black and White", undoubtedly a radio single in-waiting.

For Clegg, the heart and soul he's poured into 'Life On Mars' is about creating something unprecedented; something that rolls back the barriers we take for granted – like exploring Mars and finding life there. "I wanted to make a real statement about where I am in my musical life – and the contribution I feel I can make to the rock 'n roll canon," Clegg says. "From the moment we started work on the record and all through the recording process, I was fully aware of wanting to be able to add something to this amazing plethora of music that's been produced over the decades."

In 'Life On Mars', Clegg has done just that by staking a dark-edged, complex yet intrinsically organic and, yes heartfelt, claim in the musical expanse that is rock 'n roll.


Arno Carstens

Arno Carstens

Arno Carstens is an award-winning South African singer-songwriter and guitarist currently based between Cape Town and London.

During his career as the lead singer of South Africa's favourite rock band The Springbok Nude Girls, and subsequently as a solo artist, Arno has released 7 studio albums and had 18 top ten singles. He has won 5 South African Music Awards and shared the stage with legends of the music world.

Arno has performed on the main stage at the Isle of Wight Festival, has appeared at Glastonbury, V Festival, T in the Park and Hard Rock Calling and has supported the likes of The Rolling Stones, Paul Weller, The Police, Simple Minds and Meat Loaf on European tours.


Mango Groove

Mango Groove

Mango Groove has enjoyed over 12 Number 1 hits and received every conceivable SA music and video award, as well as a number of global ones.

They have set new precedents for all SA artists, being the only SA group to sell out the Sun City Superbowl and the Standard Bank Arena 6 times each.

This multi-platinum- selling band was the first to re-define live staging and production standards for SA acts; the first to command a million Rand sponsorship deal, and were the first and only group to remain at the top of the SA national sales charts for over a year.

Internationally, Mango Groove’s unique and magical blend of South African marabi, kwela and pop influences, together with the voice and presence of Claire Johnston and the evocative penny whistle melodies of Mduduzi Magwaza, has captivated audiences around the world.

Highlights of their career include the direct satellite link- up to the Freddie Mercury tribute in London (to an estimated audience of a billion people); their performance in front of 200 000 people at the Paris “SOS Racism” concert; and their performance at the renowned Montreux Jazz festival where the band received 3 encores. From London to Hong Kong to Toronto to Sydney, the band has played to sell- out crowds…

Mango Groove was given the honour of being the only South African (indeed African) act to be invited to perform at the “Celebrate Hong Kong ‘97” Reunification Concert.  This historic event, part of the official celebrations commemorating the hand over of Hong Kong to China, was televised world wide and immortalised on a commemorative CD.
Mango Groove was also especially proud to have been associated with the ABC world- wide broadcast of Nelson Mandela’s release where their music was used as the main theme. A few years later they headlined at his inauguration.

Mango Groove has long been aware of music’s unique power to change people’s hearts and minds, and through the years the band has raised hundreds of thousands of Rands for issues such as literacy, terminally ill children and conservation.



Freshly Ground

Freshly Ground

Freshlyground formed in early 2002, and is made up of seven talented and diverse musicians from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Fronted by the diminutive but dynamic Zolani Mahola, the band exudes a live performance energy that has been the bedrock of their success. The experienced rhythm section of Peter Cohen (drums) & Josh Hawks (bass) is complimented by guitarist Julio Sigauque, keyboardist Seredeal Scheepers, Simon Attwell (flute, mbira, sax and harmonica) and violinist Kyla Rose Smith. Although hailing from diverse backgrounds, between them the bandʼs members weave a musical magic that is highly infectious and undeniably groovy.

In 2003 Freshlyground launched their debut album, Jika Jika under their own Freeground Records label, the immediate success of which firmly cemented the band as one of South Africaʼs most successful young acts.

Freshlyground released their second studio album Nomvula in July 2004. Nomvula was recorded and produced by JB Arthur and Sibusiso Victor Masondo. The album sparked interest from Sony BMG Africa, who signed the band and released Nomvula in September that year. Radio quickly picked up on the single ʻDoo Be Dooʼ and the catchy song went on to become a crossover favorite amongst a diverse spread of stations and their listeners. ʻDoo Be Dooʼ was the most played song in South Africa in 2005. The major success of ʻDoo Be Dooʼ was followed by the singles ʻIʼd Likeʼ, ʻZithandeʼ, ʻThings Have Changedʼ and the title track of the album ʻNomvulaʼ.

The album sold 300 000 units in South Africa alone- earning it multi-platinum status. The success and broad appeal of the band was celebrated in November 2006 when Freshlyground won the MTV Europe Award in the category Best African Act. The award placed the band firmly on the international music map and earned them further recognition on home soil as significant South African cultural exports.

The success of Nomvula was followed by that of Ma Cheri - Freshlygroundʼs third studio album, released in September 2007. The albumʼs release was followed by a major South African tour attended by over 25 000 people across four cities. The tour was produced by Freshlyground and supported by Volkswagen South Africa. The tour successfully raised the performance and production standards of local touring, putting the band on par with international acts in terms of production scale and value. Ma Cheri sold multi platinum in South Africa and the single Pot Belly became another major crossover success.

In 2009 Freshlyground did 4 sold out tours in Europe. They also toured for the first time in China, the United States of America and Canada, making the band one of a handful of South African acts to have a successful and sustainable career both internationally and at home.

Now, with their fourth studio album, ʻRadio Africaʼ, Freshlyground is preparing to broadcast their unique sound, a sound that has turned the seven-piece into one of South Africaʼs most treasured acts, to the rest of the continent and the world. The album achieved GOLD status within two monthʼs of its release. The first single “Fire is Low” has been in the South African Top 50 National Chart for the past 10 weeks and counting.

A major highlight for 2010 was Freshlygroundʼs collaboration with Colombian superstar Shakira on the Official Song for the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2010. Entitled ʻ Waka Waka- This Time For Africa” the song is featured on “Listen Up: The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup AlbumTM”. The song has sold well over a million singles has reached number #1 in 19 countries world wide.

Their performance with Shakira at the World Cup Kick-off Concert and the Closing ceremony - before the Spain-Netherlands Final game- which were broadcast live to over a billion people combined with unprecedented radio play and media coverage has introduced Freshlyground and their music to a host of new fans across the globe.



Johnny Clegg

Just Jinger


Jesse Clegg

Freshly Ground

Loyiso Bala


Garth Taylor


Prime Circle


Mango Groove

Arno Carstens