Dorothy Masuka The Definitive Collection Review

Compilation. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

Best of one of South Africa's most popular singers and songwriters.

John Armstrong 2002

"Auntie Dorothy", as several generations of appreciative southern African fans call this warm and charismatic singer, was born in Bulawayo. Although technically Zimbabwean, many Bulawayans feel they have more in common with their Zulu neighbours just a few miles away in South Africa. Many of Dorothy's most celebrated songs are in Ndebele, a language much closer to Kwazulu than to Zimbabwe'smajority tongue, Shona. Consequently, this excellent introduction to her work will sound immediately familiar to fans of Dorothy's much better-known South African contemporary, Miriam Makeba.

Mariams career moves brought her much greater exposure than the equally gifted Masuka. The collection wisely concentrates on Masuka's exceptional talents as a songwriter. She recorded her very first song (also the first on this compilation) 'Nonstokolo', in 1953 whilst a schoolgirl. An immediate hit, she followed it up with 'Iyo Pata Pata', later recorded and made world-famous by Makeba.

Other tunes that you'll subliminally 'recognise', even if you're unaware of having heard them before, are 'Nhingirikiri', 'Teya Teya', and 'Ufikizolo'. They all have that easy-rolling swing tempo that is the hallmark of early marabi jazz and penny-whistle jive.

A great collection and good value, too: 20 good cuts and no filler, with liner notes that draw on recent interviews with the lady herself rather than just rehashing old album sleevenotes.

One minor reservation: some of her most artistically successful work appeared on the album 'Ingalo', recorded for Zimbabwe's Starplate label in about 1987. Perhaps due to the current difficulties in Zimbabwe, it simply wasn't possible to license any of that material. But if you like what you hear on this record, search out the Starplate albumin the secondhand shops.

And now let's have a long-overdue collection from the third great female singer of that era and locality, Dolly Rathebe....

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