Saturday, 9 May 2009

Tsonga Weekend Part 1

To recap for our newer readers, the Tsonga people (also known as the Shangaan) live mainly in southern Mozambique and the Limpopo Province in the north east of South Africa. Their language is also called Tsonga.

I know little about their music apart from the fact that I bought a couple of Tsonga Disco CDs while in South Africa over Christmas and found I liked it a lot. I have now splashed out on a couple more, which are the ones being featured this weekend.

Judging by what I have been able to discover, Thomas Chauke is one of the biggest names in Tsonga music. He has been making records for 30 years or so - usually with the Shinyori Sisters who feature on today's selections - and his albums usually go gold or platinum. According to his MySpace page, which looks a little out of date, he won the "Best Tsonga album" category of the South African Music Awards in nine of the first twelve years it was awarded (of course it may have been a very small field). The album I have is a "best of" from 2002, from which I have selected "Nyoresh" and "Baji".

I'm not sure whether he considers his music to be Tsonga Disco or just plain Tsonga. To my inexpert ears it sounds a bit more traditional than the other CDs in my extensive collection. On the first couple of listens I think I prefer the full-on Tsonga Disco, but there is some good stuff. Have a listen for yourself and see what you think.

Tomorrow: Joe Shirimani

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