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Bayete

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The rhythms of South Africa are fused with the improvisation and dynamics of jazz by Soweto-born multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jabu Khanyile and his eight-piece band, Bayete. Although they went through a major personnel upheaval in 1993, with only Khanyile remaining, Bayete continues to be one of the most respected bands in South African music. In 1994, the title track of their album Mmalo-We received a South African Music Award as Song of the Year and led to Khanyile being named Best Male Performer and Thapelo Kgome, who backed Paul Simon on the album Graceland, named Best Producer.

The son of a playboy father and a mother who died when he was in his teens, Khanyile has found a refuge in music. Inspired by his father’s love of music and the mbube songs that his father sang during weekly impromptu a cappella sessions, Khanyile taught himself to play guitar and drums. Leaving school at the age of 14 to work in a bottling plant, Khanyile soon gravitated towards music, joining his older brother’s band, the Editions. When several members resigned, a few months later, Khanyile restructured the band with new musicians. The Editions’ exciting sound soon made them one of the top bands in Soweto. By the time that they signed a record contract and were preparing for their recording debut, several members had gone into exile and Khanyile was forced to reorganize the group for the second time. The Editions’ debut single, “Izinvembezi (My Tears),” became a major success, selling more than 150,000 copies in South Africa.

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