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Biography

There are three artists known as the Soul Brothers:

1. A rocksteady group from Jamaica, led by reggae keyboard legend Jackie Mittoo.
2. A Soweto-based South African mbaqanga (urban African soul) group.
3. A metal band from Lithuania, now known as Soul Stealer

1. The Jamaican Soul Brothers were formed in August 1965, after the demise of the original Skatalites, including ex-Skatalites members Jackie Mittoo, Roland Alphonso, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Brevitt. The Soul Brothers followed up The Skatalites as house band at Studio One. Other members in this group included Wallin Cameron (guitar) and Bunny Williams (drums).

The Soul Brothers' mix of musical styles is described as , Jump-Up and sounds. The electric organ of Jackie Mittoo is the most distinguished element of the group. The band came to an end when the several members of the Soul Brothers formed Soul Vendors in 1968. (http://www.souljazzrecords.co.uk/releases/?id=134)

2. The South African Soul Brothers have been stalwarts of South Africa’s music scene, recording over 30 albums since their formation in 1974. Initially formed in KwaZulu Natal, the group have remained the slickest and most successful proponents of the mbaqanga sound that dominated South African urban music for over three decades.

While their costumes, choreography and some harmonies bear comparison to the American soul music that inspired them, the group originated a sound and style that captivated South African audiences, most especially amongst migrant labourers who under apartheid were forced to leave rural homes to seek work in the cities.

The Soul Brothers themselves trod this path to Joburg, and it was this shared frame of reference that endeared the group to the massive working class audience of South African cities.

The band was built around the rhythm section comprising bassist Zenzele "Zakes" Mchunu, drummer David Masondo, and guitarist Tuza Mthethwa who first played together in the “Groovy Boys” in Kwazulu Natal, and later as part of the “Young Brothers”.
It was in Joburg that keyboardist Moses Ngwenya joined to create the Soul Brothers, and David Masondo made the move from drums to lead vocals. The combination of Masondo’s quavering soprano voice and Ngwenya’s percussive Hammond organ playing gave the Soul Brothers a unique and instantly recognizable sound. This core rhythm section was typically augmented with a brass section, guitars, and multiple vocal harmonies.

Although the Soul Brothers enjoyed massive acclaim and commercial success, the audience remained limited to South Africa, and neighbouring states. In 1983, members of the group travelled to Botswana, where they worked with the then-exiled Hugh Masekela, affording a mbaqanga underpinning to his seminal “Technobush” album.

Car crashes saw the deaths of three band members in 1979, and then bassist and founder member Zakes Mchunu in 1984. Despite these setbacks, Masondo and Ngwenya continued, performing with an expanded group that included not only musicians, but dedicated dancers.

The Soul Brothers visited UK and Europe in 1990 on their first international tour. Despite international releases, the group remain primarily a domestic phenomenon, who continue to notch album after album achieving gold status. They also operate their own successful recording, publishing and entertainment companies.

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