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Gallo Vault Sessions

Who Shaped The Sounds of Township Music: The Gallo Vault Sessions dive deep into SA music history

Gallo Vault Sessions is a recently launched six-part podcast series that aims to explore South Africa’s rich and complex musical history through the lense of the longest running independent recording label in Africa, Gallo Music, which is home to the largest collection of African Heritage music masters in the world. Celebrating its 95th anniversary, the record label that has released the music of legendary African household names such as 

Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lucky Dube, Oliver Mtukudzi, Thandiswa Mazwai, Skwatta Kamp, and others, commissioned the podcast series in honour of that feat. Presented in a course of six months and having started with episode 1 on March 31st, June saw the fourth episode of the series being released. This episode discusses the legacies of mega producers Griffiths Motsieloa, Cuthbert Matumba, David Thekwane and Rupert Bopape who between them discovered signed and marketed many of the major artists of the era from Dorothy Masuku to the grandfather of maskandi Phuzushukela, Mahlathini and more. 

Legendary penny whistler & organ jive player Bra Lulu Masilela from The Boyoyo Boys, who despite writing many major hits never received any song writing credits, also shares his story; as well as Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, Bra Mike Swaratle, Gallo archivist Rob Allingham. This episode also sheds light on the charming origin story of Mam Hilda Tloubatla, the original soprano from The Mahotella Queens.

The latest episode of the six-part podcast series, Gallo Vault Sessions, has been released. This is the fourth episode in the series and it looks at the role of talent scouts and producers in their capacity as proxies for white owned record labels. It also touches on how influential they were in shaping the sounds of ‘black music’ in South Africa, as well as how they were the buffer zone between labels who profited off Black recorded music, and the artists who bore the brunt of a financially exploitative industry.  All the while, this entire ecosystem cemented Johannesburg as the hub of the record industry.

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