Another very tough letter to choose the first artist, several of my favourites come under C. But as I will finally get to see him perform live in Paris on Wednesday, it has to be Johnny Clegg. While classed as “African” or “World Music”, he has spanned pretty much every genre over the years, always with the same excellent songwriting, heartfelt singing and memorable tunes. His music has been part of my life for around 20 years now, with his various bands and solo recordings and I cannot wait for the concert later this week. Choosing five tracks is tough, but here goes (I have indicated whether each one is recorded with Juluka or Savuka, his two bands).
1. I Call Your Name (Savuka) – A great feel good song and the soundtrack to getting ready for many nights out in student days.
2. Woman Be My Country (Savuka) – One of my favourite ballads, his own sleeve notes say it all: “In times of trouble, we seek refuge in those closest to us”.
3. Universal Men (Juluka) – Title track to the first Juluka album, controversial at the time in South Africa for its combination of Western and traditional Zulu music, a fusion demonstrated to perfect effect on this track.
4. When The System Has Fallen (Savuka) – Uplifting song from the post-Apartheid era, combining a modern sound with traditional African singers.
5. December African Rain (Juluka) – First heard this shortly after my first visit to Africa and the bittersweet lyrics struck a chord with me. Also one of the best tunes I think Johnny has written.