Johnny Clegg is one of South Africa’s most celebrated sons, he is a singer, a songwriter, a dancer, anthropologist and a musical activist whose infectious crossover music, a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms, has exploded onto the international scene and broken through all the barriers in his own country. In France, where he enjoys a massive following, he is fondly called Le Zulu Blanc – the white Zulu.
Over three decades, Johnny Clegg has sold over five million albums of his brand of crossover music worldwide. He has wowed vast audiences with his audacious live shows and won a number of national and international awards for his music and for his outspoken views on apartheid, his perspectives on migrant workers in South Africa and the general situation in the world today. Johnny Clegg’s history is as bold, colourful and dashing as the rainbow country which he has called home for more than 40 years.
Born in Bacup, near Rochdale, England, in 1953, to an English father and Zimbabwean mother, he was brought up in his mother’s native land of Zimbabwe. She married a South African journalist and immigrated to South Africa when Johnny was seven years old. At the age of nine, he spent two years in Zambia with his parents who then returned to South Africa when he was 11 years old. Between his mother (a cabaret and jazz singer) and his step-father (a crime reporter) who took him into the townships at an early age, Johnny was exposed to a broader cultural perspective than that available to his peers.