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CLEGG FOR SPIER (article first published : 2004-12-22)

In a celebration of compelling combination, Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu will perform A South African Story, Part II at the spectacular outdoor amphitheatre at the Spier Festival in the Cape.

Johnny Clegg’s mastery of the language, dance compositional techniques and guitar styles of the Zulu gave him an opportunity to develop a modern African identity, and confidently be at home in both cultures.

His story of music, historical insight and personal anecdotes from his career stretches nearly three decades, and now Johnny and Sipho come together again to entertain their supportive fans with this production.

“It’s a cultural journey to find out what it is to be a South African in the world, and I find myself at a very interesting time in South Africa where there is so much flux, change and movement,” says Clegg.

Johnny Clegg met Sipho Mchunu in 1970 when he was 16. It was the beginning of a friendship otherwise inconceivable in a land under apartheid, and it was the start of a team that was to work together for the next 15 years. They played for each other, becoming more and more fascinated by each other’s talent and in 1975 they formed Juluka (the Zulu word for sweat).

In 1979, they produced their first album, Universal Man, which was banned on most South African radio stations. They took their music abroad and played with Ladysmith Black Mambazo in West Germany in 1981. Juluka toured Canada in 1982 and by 1983, Sunday Times had rated them as one of South Africa’s top bands. However, in 1985 Sipho felt that the group had achieved their greatest success and the group split.

Johnny continued to pursue music but slanted towards a contemporary rather than Zulu approach and so launched his new band, Savuka in 1986. The band travelled abroad extensively and supported international music icons such as David Bowie, Tina Turner and Tracy Chapman. By 1990, EMI International rated Savuka as one of their top four acts.

Clegg’s cultural crossover into Zulu tradition encapsulates the goals for a unified South Africa, where colour is no longer used to distinguish people and cultures can be shared. His music is considered to be representative of our nation and Scatterlings of Africa still brings a feeling of unity and patriotism to most South Africans.

Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu will perform at the open air Spier amphitheatre on December 28 and 29, 2004, and from January 6 to 9, 2005, at 20h30. Bookings on 021 809 1177, or email boxoffice@spierarts.org.za

The Spier Arts Trust is a non-profit, financially independent cultural organisation. It was established in 1996 to administer funds raised from the corporate, private and government sectors to present cultural events. Its objectives include developing excellence and innovation in the arts, showcasing, promoting and developing emerging South African talent and building new audiences.




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