Soul Taker

Lucky Dube

Lucky Philip Dube (pronounced doo-bay) (August 3, 1964October 18, 2007) was a South African reggae musician. He recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans in a 25-year period and was South Africa's biggest selling reggae artist. Dube was murdered in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville on the evening of 18 October, 2007.

Biography

Early life

Lucky Dube was born in Ermelo, then in the Eastern Transvaal, near the house now Mpumalanga, on 3 August 1964. His parents separated before his birth and he was raised by his mother, Sarah, who named him because she considered his birth fortunate after a number of failed pregnancies. Along with his two siblings, Thandi and Patrick, Dube spent much of his childhood with his grandmother, while his mother relocated to work. In a 1999 interview he described his grandmother as "his greatest love" who "multiplied many things to bring up this responsible individual that I am today."

Beginning of his musical career

As a child Dube worked as a gardener but, realizing that he wasn't earning enough to feed his family, he began to attend school. There he joined a choir and, with some friends, formed his first musical ensemble, called The Skyway Band. While at school he discovered the Rastafari movement. At the age of 18 Dube joined his cousin's band, The Love Brothers, playing Zulu pop music known as mbaqanga. The band signed with Teal Record Company, under Richard Siluma (Teal was later incorporated into Gallo Record Company). Though Dube was still at school, the band recorded material in Johannesburg during his school holidays. The resultant album was released under the name Lucky Dube and the Supersoul. The second album was released soon afterwards, and this time Dube wrote some of the lyrics in addition to singing. Around this time he also began to learn English.

Moving into reggae

On the release of his fifth Mbaqanga album, Dave Segal (who became Dube's sound engineer) encouraged him to drop the "Supersoul" element of the name. All subsequent albums were recorded as Lucky Dube. At this time Dube began to note fans were responding positively to some reggae songs he played during live concerts. Drawing inspiration from Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh, he felt the socio-political messages associated with Jamaican reggae were relevant to a South African audience in an institutionally racist society.

He decided to try the new musical genre and in 1984, released the mini album Rastas Never Die. The record sold poorly - around 4000 units - in comparison to the 30000 units his mbaqanga records would sell. Keen to suppress anti-apartheid activism, the apartheid regime banned the album in 1985. However, he was not discouraged and continued to perform the reggae tracks live and wrote and produced a second reggae album. Think About The Children (1985). It achieved platinum sales status and established Dube as a popular reggae artist in South Africa, in addition to attracting attention outside his homeland.

Commercial and critical success

Dube continued to release commercially successful albums. In 1989 he won four OKTV Awards for Prisoner, won another for Captured Live the following year and yet another two for House Of Exile the year after. His 1993 album, Victims sold over one million copies worldwide. In 1995 he earned a worldwide recording contract with Motown. His album Trinity was the first release on Tabu Records after Motown's acquisition of the label.

In 1996 he released a compilation album, Serious Reggae Business, which led to him being named the "Best Selling African Recording Artist" at the World Music Awards and the "International Artist Of The Year" at the Ghana Music Awards. His next three albums each won South African Music Awards. His most recent album, Respect, earned a European release through a deal with Warner Music. Dube toured internationally, sharing stages with artists such as Sinéad O'Connor, Peter Gabriel and Sting. He appeared at the 1991 Reggae Sunsplash (uniquely that year, was invited back on stage for a 25 minute long encore) and the 2005 Live 8 event in Johannesburg.

In addition to performing music Dube was a sometime actor, appearing in the feature films Voice In The Dark, Getting Lucky and Lucky Strikes Back.

Death

On October 18 2007, Lucky Dube was killed in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville shortly after dropping two of his seven children off at their uncle's house. Dube was driving his Chrysler 300C which the assailants were apparently after. Police reports suggest he was shot dead by carjackers. Five men have been arrested in connection with the murder. He is survived by his wife, Zanele, and his seven children.

Discography

Mbaqanga

  • Lengane Ngeyethu (1981)
  • Kudala Ngikuncenga (1982)
  • Kukuwe (1983)
  • Abathakathi (1984)
  • Ngikwethembe Na? (1985)
  • Umadakeni (1987)

Afrikaans

  • Help My Krap (1986)

Reggae

  • Rastas Never Die (1984)
  • Think About The Children (1985)
  • Slave (1987)
  • Together As One (1988)
  • Prisoner (1989)
  • Captured Live (1990)
  • House of Exile (1991)
  • Victims (1993)
  • Trinity (1995)
  • Serious Reggae Business (1996)
  • Tax man (1997)
  • The Way It Is (1999)
  • The Rough Guide To Lucky Dube (compilation) (2001)
  • Soul Taker (2001)
  • The Other Side (2003)
  • Respect (2007)

Compilation

  • The Best of Lucky Dube (2008)

References

Further reading

  • Afropop! An Illustrated Guide to Contemporary African Music by Sean Barlow & Banning Eyre. (Book Sales August 1995) ISBN 0785804439, ISBN 978-0785804437

External links

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