Saturday, July 08, 2006


Madala Kunene and the ancestors

Yesterday was our eldest sons birthday – Jasper turned 6 and the day was filled with fun things for him, lots of presents and lunch with the family and some of his friends.

With every birthday that comes by, I always think back to his birth and what an unbelievable experience it was to be there to watch him take his first breath. Welcoming him into our lives, with all the excitement and hope that suddenly explodes into your life with that first cry, you know from that moment your life will never be the same.

We wanted his first moment to be special too, an were fortunate that the Milnerton Medi-Clinic let us welcome Jasper with music of our choice. We had chosen a very peaceful album by one of my favourite artists, Madala Kunene, and his collaboration with Swiss guitarist Max Lässer on Madamax. Madala has revived the 'Madalaine' style of guitar playing, combining blues & soul with African folk, developing the trance-like quality of his Zulu folk singing, and it is beautiful on this album.

With vocals from Lungiswa Plaatjies, and the American lap-steel guitarist, David Lindley, contributing, this album just perfectly fitted the birth of our son. An album with African and European influence in all the right places, the working together of two worlds, the common language, and as Max described it, “that meeting Madala Kunene was like finding a brother from another culture”.

Madala has some other very powerful albums under his belt, as Maskanda’s popularity grows world-wide; he has released Uxolo, Kon’ko Man, and First Double One and Two with Madala & Baba Makoena Serakoeng featuring Sibusiso Bernard Mndaweni, and some other very powerful albums through Musical Energy Loud Truth.

Madala is a very humble man, and on the many times that I have been able to sit with him and talk, I have always felt very grounded, relaxed, and slightly in awe. I know that Madala writes his songs from the dreams that his ancestors deliver to him, and listening to his tracks, you can feel their presence. In particular I find this true with Khon’ Othwele from the Uxolo album and also Kon’ko Man. Mabi Thobejane is on percussion, and the two of them take you on a sensational journey, making you rise with the rhythmic beat, rattle and guitar riffs, the cow bells talking to you until they slowly set you down, decreasing the speed and accentuating the subtle sounds; as if to put you gently back to sleep.

This is listening music, music for the soul.

And celebrating Jaspers birth date once again makes me listen and appreciate again how beautifully timeless Madala’s sounds are.

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