Monday, February 28, 2011

Shiyani Ngcobo dies, February 18

We recently received the very sad news that preeminent maskanda guitarist Shiyani Ngcobo died in South Africa on February 18. Shiyani was a tremendous artist, and a champion of the acoustic roots of the popular Zulu guitar style.  His album Introducing Shiyani Ngcobo was a revelation for fans of African fingerstyle guitar.  Shiyani was also a dear friend of Afropop Worldwide.  We interviewed him at length and spent some very happy days with him and his band around the time of their one US concert, at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Theater in the winter of 2007.

That concert was remarkable.  Never before had straight-ahead Zulu maskanda from Kwa Zulu Natal been performed on an American stage.  And here it was at Carnegie Hall!  Shiyani and his band played for a solid two hours, far beyond the scheduled length of the concert.  Perhaps he somehow knew this would be his one chance to play for an American audience, and he took it to the limit.  Personally, it was one of the great concerts of my musical life.

Shiyani Ngcobo, Eyre 2007

We don't know almost anything about how Shiyani died, but we do know how he lived, as a deeply committed musical spirit.  He brought tremendous happiness to many, and we will miss him profoundly.

Banning Eyre

Read Shiyani's World Music Network obituary. 
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