Monday, April 20, 2015

Music Monday: Scatterlings of Africa

I think the 1980s brought South Africa into the minds of Canadians, thanks, in part, to the music scene. Peter Gabriel sang about Stephen Biko, the anti-apartheid activist that died in police custody, and much of Gabriel's music from his album, Security, had South African influences. Paul Simon's 1986 album, Graceland, also was recorded in South Africa with local musicians.

And then, of course, there was Band Aid. Not so much as African-inspired music as for the plight in parts of Africa, where people were starving, that got musicians from around the world to take action.

However, nothing brings South Africa and music to my mind more than Johnny Clegg, first, with his band Juluka, and later with Savuka.

One of the great things about Johnny Clegg was that, despite the racial tension that came with apartheid, he managed to bring both black and white musicians together and create something beautiful. For a Canadian mind such as mine, that didn't seem like such a big feat: why should colour matter?

But in Johannesburg, that was big.

Juluka and Savuka have come back to mind with me, lately, not just because I'm rediscovering a lot of the 80s music that inspired me, but I now have a close connection to these bands.

Johnny Clegg's drummer, Derek De Beer, not only lives in Ottawa, he lives in my neighbourhood. And, he teaches drum lessons to one of my daughters.

"Savuka" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -
Small world.

Derek (seen above, far left) travelled  the world with Johnny Clegg (seen fourth from left) but found his love in Ottawa. Derek married, had two kids, and chose Canada's capital as his home. When he and his wife split up, Derek kept the kids. "She's no longer in the picture," he told me when I asked him about settling in Barrhaven. He decided to raise his kids in Canada, away from the troubles of his home town.

"There are things I've seen [in Johannesburg] that I wouldn't describe in front of your little one," he said, motioning to my daughter, who was preparing for another lesson with Derek.

For Music Monday, I want to share one of Juluka's hits from 1982, from their album, Scatterlings. Decades before I knew Derek, what drew me to this song was the solid percussion. The vocal accompaniment and flute also make "Scatterlings of Africa" a great song.

If Derek can teach my daughter to be half as good a drummer, I'll be a happy man.

Happy Monday!

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