Vinyl reissue of Madala Kunene’s 1990: The Hidden Years Recording

Vinyl reissue of Madala Kunene’s 1990: The Hidden Years Recording

Bella Union are thrilled to announce the vinyl reissue of 1990: The Hidden Years Recording by celebrated South African musician Madala Kunene. The album will be reissued on 24th May via the label and is available to preorder here. To accompany the announcement Kunene has shared a live video of him performing “U-Gongo”, the album’s opening track, in Cape Town in August last year.

Madala Kunene (better known to his friends as Bafo) blends Zulu folk with township blues to produce a unique hybrid of contemporary music he calls “Madala-line”. Apart from his own colourful life experiences Madala often uses traditional songs, nursery rhymes and lullabies as the basis for his material. His highly spiritual music is guided by the mood, moment and the experience he brings to his playing. Most compositions are inspired by dreams and messages from the ancestral realm as well as the teachings of Zulu culture and folklore. Madala’s music has been researched and taught by musicologists as a course material in music studies. In May 2023 Madala was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by the University of KwaZulu-Natal for his contribution to the development of indigenous music and his contribution to the music of Africa and that of the world.

Madala Kunene was born in 1951 in Cato Manor, a vibrant mixed community in the harbour city of Durban, South Africa. The son of a carpenter, Kunene was raised by his grandmother – a staunch academic who wanted him to be something of a bookworm. He started busking on Durban’s beachfront at the age of 7 making his first guitar out of a cooking oil tin and fish gut for the strings. It was friends such as the late guitarist Sandile Shange who encouraged him to take guitar playing more seriously. At the age of eight, in the year 1959, Kunene and some members of his extended family were trucked off by the Apartheid government to go live in the then relatively new township of KwaMashu.

In very little time he had become the hottest guitar player and was discovered by the late Sakhile leader and bassist Sipho Gumede. Madala started to share the stage with such luminaries as Doc Mthalane, Mankunku Ngozi and Busi Mhlongo.

Madala Kunene’s debut album was produced in 1990 by Sipho Gumede for David Marks’ label 3rd Ear Music and released on vinyl and cassettes. 30 years later the album was re-released digitally and will now be reissued on vinyl having been unavailable for years.

The Hidden Years Music Archive was established by David Marks in 1990 to look after the collection he had built up over his years working in the South African music industry. The archive includes rare and unique music material recorded and collected by Marks of alternative popular music and musicians from the late 1960s to the early 2000s. David Marks donated the collection to Stellenbosch University in 2013 and since then the collection has kept on growing.

On 30th April 2024 President M.C. Ramaphosa honoured Madala Kunene with the Gold Order of Ikhamanga for his exceptional contribution to the arts, utilising sounds that are unique to South Africa. The Order of Ikhamanga is a prestigious South African civilian honour granted by the President to South African citizens who have made significant achievements in arts, culture, literature, music, and journalism. Ikhamanga, the Xhosa name for Strelitzia reginae, symbolises the recognition of outstanding achievement and excellence.

1990: The Hidden Years Recording artwork and tracklist

  1. U-Gongo
  2. Vumela Abaphansi
  3. Ku-Khon’ Othwele
  4. U-Ncede
  5. A-Bagoma
  6. Sanibonani
  7. U-Mata-Gota-Fri

For more info contact:
Duncan Jordan @ Bella Union
Tel: 07866 758952

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