Legendary jazz musician and drum wizard Vusi Khumalo has applied his extraordinary talent to the creation of the soundtrack for ‘She is King’, the upcoming Gersh Kgamedi movie which releases on 1 December.
The son of a baritone saxophone player, Khumalo is one of the foremost percussionists in South Africa. Best known for playing on Paul Simon’s album Graceland and the subsequent world tour, Khumalo has also toured with South African diva Miriam Makeba, with whom he performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 1996, and at Nelson Mandela tribute at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1998. He has performed with South African musicians including Winston Mankunku, Bheki Mseleku, Barney Rachabane, and Allen Kwela. Internationally, he has worked with legends Chucho Valdes, Youssou N’Dour, Bob Baldwin, Donald Harrison, and the late Carl Anderson.
A musical celebration of Zulu culture, ‘She is King’ stars Khabonina Qubeka, Khanyi Mbau, Mandisa Nduna, Aubrey Poo, and the fresh-faced Gugu Zulu, to name a few. Directed by Gersh, it presents the City of Gold as the African Broadway, and tells the story of Khanyisile (Gugu Zulu), a talented young singer, dancer and actor who wants to be a star. She travels from her home in Nongoma in KwaZulu Natal to Johannesburg to audition for a role in a musical based on the life of powerful Zulu Queen Mkabayi ka Jama – Shaka’s aunt.
The soon-to-be-released soundtrack is sure to appeal to fans of local music. The album features songs from big stars including Brenda Fassie, Lucky Dube, Simpiwe Dana, PJ Powers, Joseph Shabalala, and Vusi Khumalo himself, as well as hot new tracks by Gugu Zulu and rapper Mandisa Nduna. A showcase for some of the best South African music, the film includes songs by international stars like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Juluka and Brenda Fassie, as well as a number of traditional Zulu musicians.
“Soundtracks are important because they help to build the tone and mood of a film,” says Gersh. “The soundtrack is integral to making the movie what it is. Bra Vusi has done an amazing job in choosing tracks that influence the atmosphere in the film and the perceptions of the viewer. He believes in identifying and developing new talent, and is known for encouraging and mentoring young musicians. As the musical director of ‘She is King’, he has put together an album of the best in new music as well as much-loved older hits.”
The first single from the film’s soundtrack, a revamped version of Brenda Fassie’s hit ‘Higher and Higher’, sung by Mandisa Nduna, dropped early in November. The second single ‘She’s a King’, by Nduna and Zulu, is available for download online.
Other notable tracks include Simphiwe Dana’s ‘Iliwa Lam’, Gugu Zulu’s ‘Scamtho’ (composed by Vusi Khumalo), and ‘Too Irie’ by Mo’faya feat. Jahzo, originally composed by Lucky Dube and remixed by K Muambadzi. The film also features some great tracks by DJ Shimza (‘Party ka Shimza’), flamboyant singer Moonchild (‘Mr Chow’) and hip-hop star Ifani.
The film was made with the support of the Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI), MNET and the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC), and will be distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution. It opens nationwide on 1 December.
‘Higher and Higher’ is available online. ‘She’s a King’ can be downloaded here smarturl.it/NdunaSheAking.
Indigenous Film Distribution Website: www.indigenousfilm.co.za