On May 18th, Putumayo will release South Africa, a CD collection that celebrates the rich musical diversity of this unique country at the southern tip of Africa. With the soccer World Cup taking place for the first time on African soil from June 11 to July 11, international attention will be focused on South Africa and its postapartheid status as a democracy and economic powerhouse.
Over the course of its history, this “Rainbow Nation” with 11 official languages has nurtured many musical styles, including mbaqanga, kwela and township jive, among others. While South Africans have endured many struggles, they have often used music as a tool to protest and to express their hopes for a better future.
Putumayo’s South Africa CD is a fusion of the traditional and contemporary, with legends like the late singer and political activist Miriam Makeba, who mixed kwela and township jive on “Orlando,” a tribute to the Soweto township of the same name. The Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir and mbaqanga pioneers Soul Brothers are just two of the internationally renowned groups featured on this collection.
On “Oxam,” Mahube epitomizes the growing pan-African music movement as they effortlessly combine the sounds of artists from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and other African countries. The group features vocalist Phinda, who recently completed a stint in the The Lion King and who also performs solo on “Tiki Tiki.” Acclaimed local producer and musician Steve Dyer, one of the founders of Mahube, provides his unique blend of southern African jazz on “Mananga.”
The exciting new wave of South African music is represented here by hip and soulful Blk Sonshine, urban reggae and R&B singer Zoro and the popular kwaito-infused grooves of Kaya. Durban-based singer-songwriter Nibs van der Spuy delivers a stirring ballad from his acclaimed 2007 release. Newcomer Bholoja, who hails from the adjoining nation of Swaziland and sings in Swati (one of South Africa’s official languages), has a growing following for his brand of “Swazi soul.” The album also features late folk hero and renowned antiapartheid activist Johannes Kerkorrel, who pays tribute to his beloved land in both Afrikaans and Zulu on “Halala Afrika.”
As with many of Putumayo’s previous collections, South Africa features a recipe by chef Amos Dlamini, of the acclaimed Moyo group of restaurants. He serves up a dish representing the cultural melting pot that is South Africa.
A portion of Putumayo’s proceeds from the sale of this CD will be donated to Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA), a non-profit organization working in South Africa to combat HIV/AIDS and advance human rights.