TVD Recommends: Johnny Clegg at the House of Blues, 3/21

Paul Simon gets lots of credit for introducing American audiences to South African music. But for discerning fans of pop music, Clegg was our first exposure to the lilting melodies and uplifting lyrics of that musically diverse nation. He makes a rare New Orleans appearance at the House of Blues.

In addition to being a fabulous musician and songwriter, Clegg was also a revolutionary when South Africa was still under the apartheid system of racial separation and subjugation. A white man from a relatively privileged English family, he was under the spell of the music of the black majority from a young age.

He partnered with Sipho Mchunu to form the ground-breaking band Jaluka in 1969. They mixed English and Zulu lyrics to create a musical amalgamation that was all but banned by the white regime because racial mixing in bands was illegal.

His second racially mixed band, Savuka, achieved international acclaim with several best-selling songs and albums focusing on political themes.

Despite the political nature of his music, Clegg presents a positive musical experience. The sound is danceable with many of the trademarks of South African music including sterling guitar work, funky bass, and a strong vocal presence. Check it out if you like world music with a pop focus.

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