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South Africa

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Cape Town
Port Elizabeth
Cultural Discoveries

TThe music culture in South Africa is made up of diverse genres, from jazz, hip hop, kwaito and gospel to pop and alternative rock.

Jazz has a special place in South African music culture, and South African artists are well-known for pushing musical boundaries and doing things in new and exciting ways. The country’s political environment has had a major influence on its music, leading to the birth of original genres like kwaito, African jazz and mbube.

Did You Know?
“Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”, part of the joint national anthem of South Africa, was originally composed as a hymn by South African school teacher, Enoch Sontonga in 1897.

TThis vibrant contemporary music scene reflects a long and colourful history that saw African, American and European music forms mix, evolve and go on to entertain diverse groups of South Africans over the decades.

Making it, listening to it or moving to it—in South Africa, music infuses every aspect of our lives. The country has a rich musical heritage that includes both popular and folk forms, encompassing genres such as jazz, blues, gospel, rock, pop, reggae, hip hop, kwaito and more.

WWhile favourites like Ladysmith Black Mambazo remains one of the world's most popular choral groups and the likes of Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim’s music legacies continue to enthral, there is an exciting new group of South African musicians that have emerged over the last decade.

This group includes singer Simphiwe Dana, whose success has seen her hailed as the new Miriam Makeba, with her unique combination of jazz, pop, and traditional music. Another young star is Thandiswa Mazwai - originally a kwaito singer with Bongo Muffin - who combines local hip-hop rhythms with traditional Xhosa sounds, creating something completely new. Artist, Verity has been recognised internationally for innovation in the music industry, and bands like BLK JKS and Die Antwoord are bringing South African culture to the forefront of musical development and are receiving global recognition.

Kwaito is also a uniquely South African sound based on house music beats, but typically at a slower tempo, characterised by melodic and percussive African sounds, deep basslines and vocals that are chanted or shouted, most often by a male singer.

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