Isicathamiya: South Africa's Zulu gospel. ABC Radio National. June 2016.

 The Ulundi King Boys, a Johannesburg-based isicathamiya group, performing at a competition in Thokoza township on 25 February, 2016. Credit: Janak Rogers

The Ulundi King Boys, a Johannesburg-based isicathamiya group, performing at a competition in Thokoza township on 25 February, 2016. Credit: Janak Rogers

Isicathamiya is a traditional Zulu style of singing that emerged from South Africa’s mines at the turn of the 20th century. Combining gospel and minstrel influences with Zulu song and dance, iscathamiya is performed by all-male a cappella choirs.

 Little known outside South Africa, isicathamiya was first brought to the international stage through Paul Simon’s collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the album Graceland, released in 1986.  Isicathamiya is also the source of one of the world’s most recognizable earworms, ‘Wimoweh’, originally performed by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds.

Janak Rogers heads into the townships to find isicathamiya still thriving in South Africa’s urban centres of Durban and Johannesburg.

 

You can also listen to the piece on the ABC Radio National website here.