In our previous mixtape we featured twenty South African women singers and we acknowledged that there were too many noteworthy women singers to restrict to one mixtape, so we promised a second one. The intention was to feature another twenty women singers but that task proved too challenging, and so we have ended up with 22 songs this time around. And yet there are many more South African women singers who undoubtedly should have been included. But we are pleased that we have been able to showcase such an amazing variety of singers and hope that you enjoy listening to the selected songs.
Once again we have featured singers all the way from the 1950s and ’60s through to people who have appeared on the scene fairly recently. The earliest recordings included here are Dolly Rathebe’s “Unomeva (Isileyi Sam)”, Dorothy Masuka’s “Zoo Lake”, Sharon Tandy’s “Hold On” and Tandi Klaasen’s “Love Is What I Need Today”.
From the 1980s we include Joy’s “Paradise Road”, Mara Louw’s cover of “Take Me To The River”, Sue Charlton – of the Insisters – singing “Bluebeat”, Cindy Alter – of Zia – singing “Nobody Loves You (Like I do)”, Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s “Thank You Mr DJ” and Rebecca Malope’s “Cheated”.
Songs from the 1990s include Wendy Oldfield’s “Acid Rain”, Skye Stevensen – of The Led – singing “The Boy From Apricot Dreams”, Michelle Breeze – of Fetish – singing “Blue Blanket” and Vicky Sampson’s “Afrikan Dream” .
Into the 21st century we have “Ntjilo Ntjilo” by Gloria Bosman, “Zabalaza” by Thadiswa Mazwai and “Gimme The Music” by Unathi, all from the noughties, and more recent releases include “Isesheli” by Mandisa Dlanga (perhaps best known as a backing vocalist in Johnny Clegg’s band), “Marikana” by Lalitha, “Half Of A Woman” by Lucy Kruger & the Lost Boys, “Stay” by Adelle Nqeto, and the most recent release, “I Forgot To Be Profound Today” by Ruby Gill.
Once again, there is a wide range of voices and styles to enjoy, so dip into these songs and hopefully you will find several avenues to explore. Also, drop us a line with your recommendations for a third mixtape down the line.
There were fourteen South African songs that charted on the Capital Countdown Top 40 in 1987 and we suggest another sixteen which we think should have joined them. Two of these songs are by groups (Bright Blue and Savuka) who made the Top 40, but with only one song each. The rest were well-established musicians who somehow or other escaped the Capital music manager’s radar.
Once again their was a cluster of Shifty Records artists with some iconic songs deserving of a wider audience: Cherry Faced Lurchers, Jennifer Ferguson, Kalahari Surfers and Mr Mac and the Genuines. Syd Kitchen had been around for a decade and a half and finally recorded his debut album Waiting For The Heave, but he had to keep on waiting because his music was ignored by virtually everyone other than a few campus radio stations. All Night Radio had been around for a few years but were also battling to be noticed by radio stations. Bayete’s debut album also escaped Capital’s attention, as did anything ever released by Chicco, Mahlathini And The Mohatella Queens, Hugh Masekela, Sabenza, the Soul Brothers and Zia. Gothic band No Friends of Harry released an impressive debut EP but also failed to make the Capital Top 40.
The elephant in the room was the fear of the security branch and the possibility of losing the license to broadcast and so it almost went without saying that Capital would not playlist an overtly anti-apartheid song like Savuka’s “Asimbonanga” (although the slightly less obvious political song, “Missing” did chart in 1987). Perhaps this is why Capital ignored Shifty’s music, even though there were several classic songs which they released which would not have interested the security branch in the slightest, “Bay Of Bombay” by Jennifer Ferguson being one of them. Interestingly, the SABC sponsored a video of the song which they screened:
Capital could have got away with Chicco’s clever “We Miss You Manelow” in which he playfully laments the absence of someone called Manelow, but which everyone knew was Mandela.
Sadly, a lot of the exciting musical contests of the day seemed to bypass Capital. Be sure to give these a songs a listen now, they deserve your attention!
There were just nine South African songs on the Capital Radio Top 40 in 1986, which is remarkable given the wide array of good South African music recorded and released that year. In particular the independent label, Shifty Records, was continuing to pick up on a variety of worthwhile music which nobody else was prepared to record.
Three songs included here – “Don’t Dance”- Kalahari Surfers, “Pambere” – Mapantsula and “Too Much Resistance”- Nude Red – are taken from the anti-conscription Forces Favourites compilation album which Shifty brought out in partnership with the End Conscription Campaign. The album was actually released in December 1985 but released internationally (through Rounder Records) in 1986, which is the year we went with for the mixtapes. In the mid-1980s South Africa was in a state of civil war (and emergency) and many of Shifty’s artists reflected this reality through their music. In fact, Mzwakhe Mbuli’s Change is Pain album was banned by the apartheid government’s Directorate of Publications.
London-based Kintone’s single ‘State of Emergency’ also captured the turbulent times in South Africa, as to a lesser extent did Stimela’s “Who’s Fooling Who”, David Kramer’s “Dry Wine” and (by now also London-based) eVoid’s “Sgt. Major”, a song which could easily have fitted on the Forces Favourites compilation. 1986 also saw the first release from Bayete, who would soon be recording and performing politically astute songs of their own. Other politically relevant new music in 1986 came from Edi Niederlander, who had been performing on the folk scene for years, and Johnny Clegg’s new band, Savuka.
1985 saw a record number of 17 South African releases on the Capital Radio Top 40 Countdown. Yet there were several other songs which we think also should have charted. These included additional songs by musicians who did chart that year: Johnny Clegg’s “Gumba Gumba Jive”, Sipho Mabuse’s “Jive Soweto” and Tribe After Tribe’s “Life Of A Love Song”.
Several overseas musicians in exile released music in 1985 which was ignored or avoided by South African radio stations including Capital. These were District Six (with “Woza Wena”) , Kintone (with “Going Home”), the Malopoets (with “Intsizwa”) and Hugh Masekela (with “Lady”). These overseas releases involved several collaborations with overseas musicians: both District Six and Kintone comprised several overseas musicians while Masekela’s “Lady” was a cover of the well-known Fela Kuti track. Further, John Kongos wrote the theme tune for the British crime drama Cats Eyes and teamed up with British singer Louise Burton to record a vocal version of the theme (featured in this week’s playlist).
Meanwhile, Shifty Records was beginning to record an increasing volume of South African music which otherwise would probably have not been recorded. This week’s mixed tape includes several Shifty artists: The Cherry Faced Lurchers with their poignant “Shot Down”, the Kalahari Surfers (fronted by Tighthead Fourie) singing “Song For Magnus, a sinister cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made For Walking”, “International News” by National Wake (Off the 1985 A Naartjie In Our Sosatie compilation album) and Bernoldus Niemand singing a cover of the Radio Rats’ “Welcome To My Car”, which was specifically banned from airplay on the SABC.