Sheer Publishing has secured a publishing deal for the Johnny Clegg catalogue. The singer-songwriter’s catalogue spans more than four decades of ground-breaking music.
After months of trying to find the right people to administer this significant body of work, the Clegg family have finally entrusted the task to Sheer Publishing, the largest independent Music Publisher in Africa and a division of Downtown Music Services (DMS).
From the time Johnny Clegg began mastering Zulu music as a teenager, to the formation of Juluka, Savuka, and the past 23 years as a solo artist, his success has made him one of the world’s greatest musicians.
His mixing of English lyrics English lyrics with Zulu musical structures came a full decade before Paul Simon’s global breakout album, Graceland.
In fact, Johnny Clegg was an integral part of the South African music fabric since before Sheer Publishing was even founded.
David Alexander, Founder and MD of Sheer Publishing, elaborates, “Clegg’s music has been one of the biggest cultural exports in our lifetimes. His role in speaking truth to power has been acknowledged by many countries with many of their highest awards. He was a writer who was able to articulate the South African narrative in a way that crossed over to multiple cultures and languages and garnered support for change when we needed it most.”
It’s easy to forget how radical Clegg was. Alongside heralding a new musical form, Clegg organised live performances away from the prying eyes of police. Getting airplay on South Africa radio was near-impossible at the time, and still Clegg managed to gain a devoted fanbase and continues to do so to this very day. His music not only spans cultural boundaries, but age groups as well.
Mike Smith, Global President of DMS says, “Johnny Clegg is not only one of the greatest South African singer songwriters of recent times but his work as an anti-apartheid activist, plus his support for the indigenous people of South Africa has been instrumental in showing the power of music to create significant change. The fact that his band was the first multi-racial group in the time of apartheid underlines his importance of direct action in bringing the apartheid to a close.”
Hilton Rosenthal, who has looked after Johnny Clegg’s Juluka and Savuka publishing since 1979 says, “Downtown Music Services has built a great team and technology that will enable us to maximise opportunities for Johnny’s incredible catalogue of works throughout the world. We are excited to see what we can build together.”
What: Johnny Clegg catalogue Sheer Publishing