Madala Kunene: King of Zulu Blues
Featured Artists: Madala Kunene (guitar) Gabriel Thobejane (percussion) Lerato Lichaba (electric guitar) Matthias Abaecherli (electric bass & violin) Gilbert Peloeole (drums)
Company: Standard Bank Jazz Festival
Madala Kunene, commonly referred to as Bafo, the King of the Zulu Guitar, is constantly shifting between musical habitats. He has no interest in genre prescriptions and instead, his brand of blues operates in a space where cool jazz, maskandi, mbaqanga, and a myriad of East Coast blues intersect.
Kunene started busking on Durban’s beachfront at the age of 7, making his first guitar out of a cooking oil tin and fish gut for the strings, and soon becoming a popular performer in the townships. His music is influenced by his upbringing and the history of the apartheid system that saw him being a victim of forced removal when young.
“Music is the best medium to record and tell history. As African people, the way we know and understand our past is very influenced by music. So if I can add one layer of context that can help in understanding… our history, then that is great.” – Madala Kunene