Caiphus Semenya

Caiphus Semenya (born 19 August 1939) is a South African composer and musician. He left South Africa for Los Angeles in the 1960s, together with his wife, singer Letta Mbulu. Among the artists with whom he worked are Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Hotep Galeta, Miriam Makeba, Lou Rawls, Nina Simone and Cannonball Adderley. Semenya also arranged the Swahili chant in the intro to Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl" from the 1987 Bad album.

Formerly self-exiled from South Africa in the 1960s, Caiphus Semenya has built a solid reputation as a musical director and composer, working with his wife, vocalist Letta Mbulu, as well as with a variety of other exiled and semi-exiled African artists, such as Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba. Moving to Los Angeles, Semenya found himself working with and composing for a broad range of jazz and pop artists, including Lou Rawls, Nina Simone and Cannonball Adderley, his facility with both jazz and African forms serving him well. Semenya's Los Angeles stay also yielded an ongoing collaboration with Quincy Jones, resulting in Semenya providing African compositions for the scores to Roots (both parts) and Steven Spielberg's adaptation of The Color Purple. He later worked on the score to Disney's The Lion King. After his return to South Africa in 1990, he composed scores for Molo Fish, Vicious Circle and Gaba Mootho, three series broadcast by the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation. He continues to work in America, Europe and Africa in a variety of capacities, including with Letta Mbulu as Caiphus & Letta. He is an executive producer for Quincy Jones' Qradio website, for which he also writes a regular column.



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