Overseas Covers Of South African Songs

Continuing with our mixtapes of cover songs, this time we focus on songs written by South Africans and recorded by foreign artists. Considering the flow of popular culture from the West to the rest, it always seems quite an achievement for music from the tip of Africa to be heard, let alone covered, by musicians from outside the country. Given the distance a song has to travel (symbolically at least, and for many decades, physically too) it is not surprising that among the most ‘covered’ South African musicians are those who were prominent exiled artists – particularly Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly Dollar Brand). Johnny Clegg had significant overseas success, on the back of extensive touring, and so he also features prominently (in Juluka, Savuka, and as a solo artist).

We have selected a few songs by these artists although there are many more of their songs which were covered: Miriam Makeba was covered by Nat Adderley (“Quit It”), the Dino Rubino Trio (“Sangoma”), Manu Dibango & Kaissa Doumbe (“Pata Pata”), Somi (“Mbombela”), and Zap Mama (“African Sunset”); Hugh Masekela was covered by Stevie Wonder (“Grazing In The Grass”), Soul Syndicate (“Riot”), and Rozalla (“Don’t Go Lose it Baby”); Abdullah Ibrahim was covered by Nubya Garcia & Jools Holland (“Mannenberg”); and Johnny Clegg’s compositions were covered by Afroblue (Juluka’s “Kilimanjaro”), Jimmy Buffet (Johnny Clegg and Savuka’s “Great Heart”) and the Beautiful Girls (Savuka’s “Dela”). Furthermore, John Kongos was covered by the Happy Mondays (“Tokoloshe Man”) and The Party Boys (“He’s Gonna Step On You Again”); while Steve Kekana was covered by Precious Wilson (“Raising My Family”).

Also included here are Four Jacks & A Jill (the Dave Marks composition “Master Jack” covered by The Paranoid Style), Nancy Jacobs & Her Sisters (the Strike Vilakazi composition “Meadowlands” covered by Duo Ouro Negro), Freshlyground (“Doo Be Doo” covered by KC Concepcion”), Lucky Dube (“I’ve Got You Baby” covered by Carlene Davis), two songs from the Ipi Tombi stage show (the Original Ipi Tombi Cast’s “Ipi-N-Tombia” is covered by the Three Degrees and Margaret Singana’s version of “Mama Tembu’s Wedding” is covered by the Vernons.

Some of the above songs have been covered by several artists but, as has been well-documented, none as often as Solomon Linda’s “Mbube”. Here we include one of the more interesting covers, by Angelique Kidjo. We end off with Stef Bos covering “Onder In My Whiskeyglas” originally recorded by Koos Kombuis, Josh Groban covering “Weeping”, originally recorded by Bright Blue, and the Shadows covering Nico Carstens’ “Zambesi”.

We are planning a second series of covers, so if you want to recommend some for inclusion please leave suggestions!

  1. Tokoloshe Man – Happy Mondays (John Kongos)
  2. He’s Gonna Step On You Again – The Party Boys (Johnny Kongos)
  3. Master Jack – The Paranoid Style (Four Jacks & A Jill)
  4. Meadowlands – Duo Ouro Negro (Nancy Jacobs & Her Sisters)
  5. Grazing In The Grass – Stevie Wonder (Hugh Masekela)
  6. Quit It – Nat Adderley (Miriam Makeba)
  7. Mannenberg – Nubya Garcia & Jools Holland (Dollar Brand)
  8. Sangoma – Dino Rubino Trio (Makeba)
  9. Doo Be Doo – KC Concepcion (Freshlyground)
  10. Kilimanjaro – Afroblue (Juluka)
  11. Great Heart – Jimmy Buffet (Johnny Clegg)
  12. Raising My Family – Precious Wilson (Steve Kekana)
  13. I’ve Got You Baby – Carlene Davis (Lucky Dube)
  14. Riot – Soul Syndicate (Hugh Masekela)
  15. Mbube – Angelique Kidjo (Solomon Linda)
  16. Pata Pata – Manu Dibango & Kaissa Doumbe (Miriam Makeba)
  17. Mbombela – Somi (Miriam Makeba)
  18. African Sunset – Zap Mama (Miriam Makeba)
  19. Dela – The Beautiful Girls (Savuka)
  20. Don’t Go Lose It Baby – Rozalla (Hugh Masekela)
  21. Ipi-N-Tombi – The Three Degrees (Original Ipi Tombi Cast)
  22. Mama Tembu’s Wedding – The Vernons (Margaret Singana)
  23. Onder In My Whiskeyglas – Stef Bos (Koos Kombuis)
  24. Weeping – Josh Groban (Bright Blue)
  25. Zambesi – The Shadows (De Waal & Nico Carstens)

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