Madala Kunene


Madala Kunene was born in 1951 in Cato Manor, Durban, moving to the township of KwaMashu after his family were evicted by the apartheid government. Despite being born into a family of eminent academics he refused to spend a day at school – an early sign of Madala's single-minded and uniquely unconventional nature. He started busking on Durban’s beachfront at the age of 7. A talented soccer player, his friends convinced him that his talents lay in music and he went on to become a regular performer in the clubs of nearby Durban. He briefly lived in Cape Town but returned to Durban and steadily developed his own technique of guitar playing that combines blues, soul and afro folk.

His hypnotic signature of his Zulu folk singing elevates his performances to a near-spiritual experience. He turned professional in the 70s, and in the 90s teamed up with the dance troupe Woza Africa. In 1993 Melt2000 gave him his recording break and he performed on 'Freedom Countdown', produced by Sipho Gumede and has subsequently become an invaluable member of a great many Melt projects. Madala's solo album 'K'onko Man' (1995) featured collaborations with the likes of Busi Mhlongo, Beulah Hashe, Marilyn Nokwe, Phumzile Ntuli and percussionists Mabi Thobejane and Airto Moreira. In 1996 he released 'King Of The Zulu Guitar - Vol. 1', which sold well overseas. In 2002 he recorded the Sama-nominated 'First Double 1 & 2' with late guitarist Baba Mokoena. In 2004 he also composed the score for the Zulu feature film 'Yesterday'. His latest album is titled '1959'. He continues to perform regularly locally and internationally.


Track artwork
Nux Schwartz
Mbombela Blues_Madala Kunene ft Nux Schwartz


ZADurban, South Africa


Josh Georgiou
Profile added by DJ Okapi on 27 May 2014