Joe Mafela - The Fort No.4

2007-08-24 15:44
Joe Mafela’s The Fort No 4 is reminiscent of the days when freedom songs were sung for joy and liberation. Even though these songs of hope, joy, dispute, unity, sadness and love songs have the same moving effect, the messages here are different. The style here is similar to mbube, traditional Zulu music, historically sung by migrant workers living in closed quarters. Joe Mafela describes this music as prison song sung to comfort and entertain the men.
If The Fort no 4 is your first South African traditional a capella music listening experience, then it’s okay to get up and toyi-toyi to “Sekunzima”or “Uphondo” or ululate to “Mama” or “Amagugu”. If you enjoyed experiencing the revolution in four part harmonies of the Amandla! soundtrack you’ll loveThe Fort No 4. And if you are fan of Ladysmith Black Mambazo this is also right up your alley. It’s also a pleasant surprise coming from a man best known for his comic timing on sitcoms such as Is Good, Is Nice and Madam & Eve, rather than his musical talents.

Footnote: this isn’t Joe’s debut, it’s actually one of four CDs. Also worth checking out is the popular Shebeleza Fela's (2004).

- Nomfundo H Mbaba+Tshabalala
This CD showcases the reason why white colonisers were so impressed with indigenous African a cappella music during the 50s and 60s. South African choral music moved them. They couldn’t believe that so many voices could blend so well and make beautiful music without any instruments. Just voices, some occasional clapping and maybe a bang or two on the thigh or a gum boot.

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