100 World Class South Africans: Johnny Clegg

2013-07-25 12:00

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Agent of harmony

His music is known and loved throughout the world and, at almost 60, Johnny Clegg is still notching up firsts: he recently became the only South African solo act to perform at the Royal Albert Hallin London.

With his first band Juluka, formed in 1976 with Sipho Mchunu, he introduced a unique fusion of Western and Zulu sounds.

But their partnership was tricky due to apartheid, and touring the world became the most viable way to spread the music and the message.

Since then, Clegg has had global success with his second band, Savuka, and as a solo artist.

All along, he’s spread the message of racial harmony – he has three honorary doctorates and several humanitarian awards in recognition of this. The French love him so much they’ve made hima knight of arts and letters.

Clegg says he’s most proud of creating dialogue and letting people know about where he is from.

‘I recognised early on that the South African experience is unique, and I wanted to write and sing about it. In the process I became someone who helped shape the telling of it. This is impossible from London or New York. Also, this is such a happening country.’

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