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South African artists doing the most overseas

30 October 2019
These musos are some of Mzansi's brightest ambassadors.

Image: Steven Pisano, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Black Coffee
Renowned DJ

Celebrated internationally, DJ Black Coffee has displayed his mad skills at some of the world's most popular music festivals, think Coachella, Tomorrowland, Sonar Festival in Barcelona, and New York’s Terminal 5.

He has had residencies in party capitals of the world: Ibiza in Spain, and Las Vegas in USA. For three consecutive years, he's nabbed the Best Deep House DJ title at the acclaimed DJ Awards.

Black Coffee was recently interviewed by fellow South African, Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. "You have taken the world by storm," Noah said. "I remember when you first blew up in South Africa. You went from South Africa and you went into the world and you’ve taken it by storm. Why do you think you’ve blown up as much as you have over the world?"

"It’s resilience," Black Coffee replied. "It’s knowing hunger, and knowing you’ve experienced it and never want to go back there. Its working from nothing knowing you have nothing to lose so whatever you gain, is something. That’s what has kept me going and what has gotten me to where I am today."

And he's bringing back home. The 'Music Is King' festival is heading to Durban and Johannesburg this December. At the media launch, he said: "It’s not about the colour of your skin, it’s not about where you are from, it’s about your love for music. We have become so genre-specific that we are not open to listen to other genres and although I am known as a house DJ, I enjoy all kinds of music. With 'Music Is King' you can come because you love hip-hop but you get to also enjoy rap and kwaito."

Lebo M
Singer, composer, producer and arranger

Anyone who's watched The Lion King would be familiar with Lebo's voice because it is his voice behind the cry that marks the birth of Simba in the opening of the animated movie. What's more, he's also worked on the score with celebrated musicians and composers such as Tim Rice, Hans Zimmer, and Elton John. The Lion King theatrical show is also somewhat a permanent feature in the West End, now running for a whopping 20 years.

But long before the fame and Grammy-win, Lebo Morake (his full name) was busking on the street because he was homeless.

He told The Stage: "There were very few choices in the township. I was horrible at soccer and boxing. I lasted 25 minutes in the boxing ring. So I joined a youth club and did ballroom dancing. I loved it because there was music and you got to be close up with the ladies. It was better than running up and down a soccer field, or being beaten up at boxing."

He added that The Lion King's success was unexpected. "I became isolated from the success of the movie initially. It became more about the three white guys – Elton, Tim and Hans – until the Broadway stage show, when I became more comfortable with being identified as one of the co-writers. The scale of the [stage] project and the subsequent demand for replica shows sucked me out of my isolation.”

Ndlovu Youth Choir
Singing group

After appearing on the reality TV show, America's Got Talent (AGT), the choir shot to fame internationally and locally. In that time, they’ve won many-a-heart.

Though they didn’t win the overall title, the exposure has catapulted the singing group to soaring heights. When they returned to South African shores, they were met with intense cheers at the airport.

Their first international show in the Netherlands after their stint on AGT was also sold out. Those who didn’t travel to the show got to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Keep it real with #MassiveMusicSA every Friday at 21:30 on Mzansi Magic.