The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Centre for Jazz and Popular will host the first of its “Twosday” gigs of 2020 through a performance by Madala Kunene on 18 February 2020. Kunene was born in 1951 in Cato Manor and later moved to KwaMashu Township after his family was evicted by the apartheid government.
Despite being born into a family of eminent academics he hardly spent time in school signaling his uniquely unconventional nature and his single-mindedness. At the age of 7, he made his first guitar out of tins to entertain people on the Durban beachfront leading to his popularity in the townships.
Madala was discovered by Sipho Gumede and moved to Johannesburg where he worked with Songamasu Band which shared the stages with the likes of Doc Mthalane, Shawn Philips, Mankunku Ngozi and Busi Mhlongo. He returned to Durban in the mid-70’s, to protect his family’s properties upon violence which had erupted thus offering him the opportunity to hone and develop his craft while playing low-key gigs in and around the townships. He later introduced the “Madala Line”, a style of guitar which fused blues, soul with Zulu folklore despite pressure to play the western styles of music.
Kunene’s international recording career took off in 1994 when he participated in the legendary Outernational Meltdown recording of the label B&W Music that brought Airto, Jose Neto, Byron Wallen and Andrew Missingham to Johannesburg and Cape Town to collaborate with local artists. His first international solo album was released in the year 2000 titled “Kon’ko Man” and subsequently joined forces with Swiss guitarist Max Lässer during the second edition of the Outernational Meltdown recording for the album “Madamax”. He later released a second album titled “Bafo”.
Madala has performed on several international stages in Europe, Asia and America with artists such as Brazilian legend Airto Moreira, Cuban master Changuito, Mabi Thobejane and Cameroonian drummer Brice Wassy. He has also collaborated with the late Syd Kitchen, Greg Georgiades, Ernest Mothle, Ashis Joshi, Ntombethongo, Indian legend Debashish Bhattacharya, Hugh Masekela and members of Kwani Experience.
Since 2014, Bafo as he is affectionately called has been working with Forest Jam in Switzerland with his long-standing friend Max Lässer teaching traditional music. He has continually been touring, performing around Southern Africa with Forest Jam Band. The band has performed in festivals such as Sakifo in the Reunion Island and its sister event in Durban, to very receptive audiences.
Kunene will be joined by Njabulo Shabalala on percussion and Sthembiso Ntuli on saxophone. The Centre for Jazz and Popular Music is located at Level 2, Shepstone Buidling, UKZN Howard College Campus. General admission is R90, R60 for pensioners while students only pay R30 if they produce a student card. Doors open at 17h30 and the concert starts at 18h00.