Unit 3: Kwela with Naledi
Melody now takes us on a journey from Brooklyn, New York to Boston, Massachusetts to meet our next singer, Naledi.
Kwela is a lively South African genre of protest and street music developed in the 1940’s and 50’s that evolved from a jazz style of South African called marabi. The word “kwela” means “to climb” or “get on board” in the Zulu language. Kwela music was often referred to as “penny whistle jive” or “tin whistle jive” because it featured a metal pennywhistle. Kwela was the first popular indigenous South African genre of music to receive commercial success internationally. Although it was primarily inspired by marabi and American jazz, Kwela also has elements of rock ’n roll, blues, and swing making it fun to dance to and giving it cross-cultural appeal.
Meet Naledi Masilo
Naledi Masilo is a vocalist, composer, teaching artist, and arts administrator who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Relations and Sociology from the University of Cape Town and recently graduated with a degree in Jazz Performance from The New England Conservatory. In 2019, Naledi was a resident at the Kennedy Center with Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program, where she was mentored by Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jason Moran. She has also been invited to participate in the Banff International Jazz and Creative Music workshop in Calgary, Canada. Naledi is the Founding Director of The Dreaming Girls Foundation, a South African based non-profit organization that cultivates women and girls in the arts to be leaders and critically conscious members of society.
Students learn to sing the response in “Pata Pata” and explore the musical instruments of kwela.
Go to Lesson 1: Learning “Pata Pata” →
- Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
- Carol A. Muller, South African Music: Traditions in Transformation
- Max Mojapelo, Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music line break line break line break
- Ethnomusicology Explained walks through the history of kwela in 1950s South Africa:
- UNICEF Cultural Ambassador Angelique Kidjo recorded a version of “Pata Pata” in spring 2020 to encourage social distancing:
Additional Teaching Resources:
- “Miriam Makeba” on South African History Online
- “Tin Whistle Jive and the Roots of Kwela (1951-1962)” on Electric Jive
Unit 3: Audio Tracks
Track 19 – Pata Pata (Call and Response)