Internationally recognized musician Johnny Clegg will bring his blend of Western rock, African jazz-pop, Zulu chants and choreography to the Grass Valley stage Friday.
Clegg formed a band with mixed races in South Africa at a time in the late 1970s when that was not allowed. Since then he has sold millions of albums and given rise to some of the savviest world music proponents— Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and David Byrne.
Dancer, anthropologist, singer, songwriter, academic, activist and French knight, Johnny Clegg has campaigned against the injustice of apartheid in South Africa and been instrumental in putting the new South Africa on the map as a cultural ambassador.
In recent years, he was awarded three honorary doctorates from Dartmouth College, CUNY and University of the Witwatersrand. A Grammy-award nominee and Billboard music award winner, Clegg tours regularly in Europe and North America.
Over three decades, Clegg has sold more than five million albums. Considered one of South Africa’s most celebrated sons, Clegg’s music is a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms.
In France, he enjoys a massive following and is fondly called Le Zulu Blanc — the white Zulu.
Born in Bacup, near Rochdale, England, in 1953, to an English father and Zimbabwean mother, he was brought up in his mother’s native land of Zimbabwe.
She married a South African journalist and immigrated to South Africa when Clegg was seven years old.
At the age of nine, he spent two years in Zambia with his parents who then returned to South Africa when he was 11 years old. Between his mother, a cabaret and jazz singer, and his stepfather, a crime reporter, Clegg was exposed to a broad cultural perspective.
In the summer of 2004, Clegg performed a four-month tour of Europe and North America, playing to capacity houses and appeared at several world-famous shows including headline act for Montreal International Jazz Festival opening night, Tribeca Film Festival in New York, Denver Botanical Gardens, New Orleans Jazzfest, Milwaukee Summer Fest, Florida Sunfest, Festival de Cornauille — France and Festineuch in Switzerland.
Solo projects include: “One Life” (2007), “New World Survivor” (2002) and “A South African Story” (2003).
Clegg performed on all four of Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Aids Awareness Concerts in South Africa and in Norway. Mandela has joined him on stage during the rendition of “Asimbonanga,” a song written by Clegg about Mandela during his period of incarceration.
During the Cape Town and Tromso 46664 shows, Clegg performed duets of his work with Peter Gabriel.
Tickets to the 8 p.m. Friday show are $30 for members of the Center, $35 for the general public and are available at the Center’s Box Office in person, by phone at 530-274-8384, ext. 14, online at www.thecenterforthearts.org or at BriarPatch Co-op.
For more information, go to www.thecenterforthearts.org.