Row over 'Waka Waka' song

2011-07-09 00:00

THE World Cup theme song Waka Waka, which divided the nation last year, is back in the news.

The song, performed by Shakira and Freshlyground, has been miscredited and has benefitted Freshlyground, who contributed very little to the worldwide version of the song.

These sensational claims come from New York-based musician Dominic James, who said that the original parts of the World Cup theme song were recorded by him.

“I wrote and recorded ALL [sic] of the guitar parts AND all of the bass lines for Shakira’s official Soccer World Cup song, Waka Waka,” he told Weekend Witness in an e-mail.

James notes that he is “very proud” of the song, which has been heard by billions around the world, but “all the money and accolades have gone to the South African band Freshlyground”.

“They have admitted to me in writing that they did not play a single note on the record. Their singer sang for eight bars in the bridge, but somehow all of them were credited with their respective instruments and they all appeared on the CD cover and official video,” he said.

“They promised that they would credit me when they talk to the media, but they’re still going around claiming credit for my work.

“The only reason I accepted to do this session for a measly $500 [R3 356] was because of all the tremendous follow-up work it would generate with Shakira. Freshlyground are getting rewards and follow-up work for something they didn’t do. Even the eight bars that their singer sang is based on my lead guitar melody,” he added.

When contacted by Weekend Witness for proof, James forwarded the e-mails he received from Sony Music and Freshlyground’s Simon Attwell, who both admit his contribution.

In the correspondence between James and Attwell, the latter says he is “sorry if this has caused you [James] some frustration, but short of keeping a watch on the world’s media and following up on every article it’s pretty hard to control”.

Attwell goes on to claim that Freshlyground guitarist Julio Sigauque played guitar towards the end of the song on the official version, but this has also been refuted by James.

Sony Music is also referenced in the e-mail as saying that James’s performance “was integral to the sound and appeal of the song” and that the company “had all of Dominic’s guitar parts labelled as such in the [recording] session”.

Freshlyground and Sony Music were contacted repeatedly but have not responded.

James has posted a YouTube video in which he recaps the studio time and demonstrates the lead guitar and bass parts in the song. Visit www.witness.co.za to see the video.

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