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Grooving with the Manhattan Brothers

By Matt Yanchyshyn

The Manhattan Brothers dominated the black South African musical scene during much of the 1940s and 50s. They recorded, toured and performed under difficult circumstances given the political climate of early-apartheid South Africa. Despite occasional jailings, troubles getting visas and general discrimination they managed to attain great success.

They played with many greats over the years and inspired a whole generation of black South African musicians such as Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim. Among others, Miriam Makeba got her start singing with them.

Their style is simple, catchy and straight-up representative of the time. They borrow from American jazz and soul influences but still come off with a distinct sound.

Throw these tracks on this Valentine’s night after a few glasses of wine, and then twist real close to that lady…

You can get both of these songs on their greatest hits album that came out in 2000.


Yanchyshyn is Associated Press's West Africa correspondent and an expert on African music. He blogs at mattgy.net

Music Podcast:The Manhattan Brother

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