Top 10 South African Musicians Of All Time is a complex and controversial feauture but important because it celebrates SA musicians who have done us proud. Whilst the feature will and does come with it’s fare share of criticism because realistically not everyone will agree with the list 100%.
It’s an important list because many artists such as Lucky Dube who are still widely celebrated world over do not get the recognition they deserve locally and this feature seeks to celebrate and work as a reminder to the work of SA greats who might be gone but not forgotten or even alive but deserving of their roses when they can still smell them.
Lucky Dube is no doubt the most influential South African musician of all time! His music whilst not very celebrated locally has crossed more borders than any other South African music. Lucky Dube is widely listened to on the continent and overseas.
The reggae musician and Rastafarian. 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. 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 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.[
Coming second to Lucky Dube is Brenda Fassie who is probably the most prominent South African musician of all time whose music is widely known and played caroused Southern , Western and East Africa. Brenda Fassie was described as the “Queen of African Pop” or the “Madonna of The Townships” or simply as The Black Madonna. Fassie has won five South African Music Awards: Best Female Artist and Song of the Year in 1999, Best-selling Release of the Decade and Best Song of the Decade in 2004, and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. She has also won three Kora Awards: Most promising Female Artist of Africa and Best Female Artist of Africa in 1996, and the Jury Special Award in 2001. She was voted 17th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.
Rebecca Malope is the most successful South African gospel artist of all time. Dr Rebecca Malope, is a multi-award-winning South African gospel singer. She is known as ‘the African Queen of Gospel’. Her music career spans for more than three decades. She has sold at least 10 million albums worldwide. Most of her released 35 albums have reached multi-platinum status.
4. Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo are a South African male choral group singing in the local vocal styles of isicathamiya and mbube. They became known internationally after singing with Paul Simon on his 1986 album Graceland, and have won multiple awards, including five Grammy Awards, dedicating their fifth Grammy to the late former President Nelson Mandela.Ladysmith Black Mambazo became one of South Africa’s most prolific recording artists, with their releases receiving gold and platinum disc honours.
5. Cassper Nyovest
It’s difficult to talk about SA music without mentioning SA Hip Hop and if we are to have a conversation about influence it’s fair to say Cassper is the most influential SA hip hop artist of all time. Not only has Cassper sold multiple platinum albums, he has won numerous awards locally and internationally. The rapper has also filled FNB Stadium, Orlando Stadium and The Dome something unprecedented!