Skipper Shabalala presents Singabantu [ We are all human ]
Industry veteran and stalwart of the South African music scene, Skipper Shabalala has over 20 years experience as a professional musician who has spanned various genres of music. In 1986, he formed the popular group Zasha that produced the hit track Bricka Bhova and performed as the backing group for top acts like Kamazu, Ali Kat, Chicco and Rebecca Malope.
After nine years with the band Skipper joined the late reggae master Lucky Dube’s band in 1995 as the lead guitarist and featured on numerous albums. A natural on the stage, through his discipline and hardworking reputation, Skipper assumed the role of the band leader and toured the world with Lucky Dube sharing the stage with musical giants like Michael Jackson, Burning Spear, UB40, Peter Gabriel, Shaggy and Ziggy Marley. He has also worked with talents such as Mr Caiphu, Mama Leta Mbulu, Siphokazi and Eddy Grant.
In 2000, together with the three other talented musicians, Skipper formed an Afro traditional group Khumbula with Skipper as lead guitarist, lead vocalist and bandleader. Khumbula immediately established themselves as major players on the local airwaves. The multi-talented musician’s popular Afro-beat style is a unique combination of traditional Maskanda guitar rhythms in conjunction with astounding vocal interplay, all with an exotic, delicate North African ingredient.
The music reveals deep respect to the traditions that Skipper grew up with, while the vocal arrangements and other eclectic touches keep the music fresh and relevant to the new generation of fans of contemporary local music. He explains, “The fusion of different music elements with my Zulu traditional way of singing resulting in a fresh sound. Each song brings its own meaning to the album.”
Skipper’s first long- awaited solo album, Bekezela (Persevere) was nominated for a 2011 SAMA award. Now, his new album, Singabantu, is finally here. From a song about miners longing for home (Istimela), how dancing can make us feel better (Shakara) and a beautiful tribute to Nelson Mandela (We thank you Tata)), it’s easy to fall in love with this album. With the theme of “Love, Respect and Unite,” clear in the songs, Skipper’s songwriting is again top- notch and melded with a unique but smooth and highly listenable style of African music.
Anyone into contemporary music, traditional fusion/jazz, Afro – fusion and of course Maskandi music will just have to add this sublime offering to their collection.