Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Steve Knopper writes about Sophiatown, the birth place of African Jazz.
It’s hard for a visitor to tell today, but Sophiatown is the historic epicenter of African jazz, the Soweto sound and the “township jive” that came to America in Paul Simon’s 1986 album Graceland and the performances of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and which continues to reverberate in the music of indie-pop darlings Vampire Weekend. It’s some of the most joyous and soulful music in the world. But nearly all evidence of its origins here have been erased. In 1955, during the early years of apartheid, the government began displacing the residents of Sophiatown, bulldozing their homes, and rebuilding the town as a whites-only enclave. Where music once spilled noisily into the streets from homes, churches, bars and schools, a suburban quiet settled in.

Now Sophiatown is free again, and former residents have returned to live here, but it’s still strangely quiet. I came to find out where the music went.
Click to read the full article

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