Biggest SA music collaboration ever to honour icon, Johnny Clegg

More than 50 artists recorded a special version of Clegg’s soulful track, “The Crossing.”

Over 50 prominent artists came together to record a tribute to Johnny Clegg, a true South African legend who has made and continues to make an indelible mark on music history. Last night, on the 5th of December, the song and accompanying video, filmed at the gathering in September, were played to Johnny for the very first time at a private event where he performed for friends and lifelong fans at the luxury boutique hotel, Ellerman House in Bantry Bay, Cape Town.

Paul Bruce-Brand, Ellerman House’s General Manager and passionate music lover said, “This was an extremely unique, powerful performance which culminated in one of our final ‘Ellerman Sessions’ of the year. These intimate sessions embrace South African talent with fervour, offering a series of personal-storytelling evenings with local icons, from platinum-selling musicians to award-winning chefs. What a story Johnny Clegg has to share – filled with emotional tales of struggle and hardship, yet characterised by an overriding sense of joy, humour, hope and passion for this country.”

Singer, songwriter, dancer, anthropologist and musical activist, Johnny Clegg’s infectious crossover music — a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms — exploded onto the international scene and broke through barriers in South Africa. In an award-winning career spanning over three decades, he has sold over five million albums worldwide, bringing people from all backgrounds together.

When the special version of “The Crossing” was unveiled on the 5th of December at Ellerman House, Johnny Clegg remarked, “I am speechless, thank you so much. This is an amazing moment for me – to have so many of my peers acknowledge the song and its sentiments, and that they can use that to further something much bigger than all of us. Thank you.”

The same evening saw the launch of Friends of Johnny Clegg, a fund created in Johnny’s honour to help alleviate the education crisis in South Africa. All proceeds from downloads of this special version of “The Crossing” will go toward this fund. These proceeds will be distributed by the Click Foundation, which targets young learners with an online phonetics-based programme in centres across the country, ultimately aimed at creating a better future for the youth of South Africa — a cause close to Johnny’s heart.

Paul Bruce-Brand explained how it all transpired: “Roddy Quin, Kahn Morbee, Karen Zoid, Theo Crous, my team and I, together with the other artists in our lineup wanted to do something special to honour all that Johnny has done and continues to do for music and South Africa. Given that our owner, Paul Harris has a vision for Ellerman House and is passionate about South Africa, it was natural for us to back an ambitious collaborative project. Never could we have imagined that it would snowball into something as large as it did. Before we knew it, everyone, from far and wide, wanted to participate. Local artists performed alongside acclaimed international artists Dave Matthews, Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford. It proved to be an overwhelming testament to Johnny Clegg and indicated the extent to which he has touched people’s lives through his music.”

On 10 September 2018, many of South Africa’s most popular and influential artists flew into Cape Town to share their time and talent in recording their own version of Johnny Clegg’s “The Crossing” at Mothership Studios. The song was produced by Theo Crous and mastered in Los Angeles by Lurssen, a multi Grammy award-winning studio. Emotions were high, with smiles all round and a wonderful sense of camaraderie amongst fellow artists and friends, brought together by their desire to pay tribute and express their love and admiration for the great Johnny Clegg. 

Watch the official music video directed by Carien Loubser of Brainwave Productions and the video of an unforgettable evening at Ellerman House by Etched Space. For behind-the-scenes images of artists at the recording and images of the handover, click here. The song is available for download on all digital platforms including Apple Music, iTunes, Google Playstore, Spotify and Deezer. All proceeds go directly to the Friends of Johnny Clegg Fund. For more information on how to support the cause, please visit the website


ARTISTS: Friends of Johnny Clegg

PROCEEDS: Friends of Johnny Clegg Fund


Abigail Kubeka: “I was honoured to be invited to be part of this project. Johnny Clegg  is one of our greatest musicians in South Africa. For him to think of helping others when he has a challenge of his own is typical of his nature and of musicians in this country. He and his fellow musicians make others happy when they themselves experience hardship. To Johnny, all the participating musicians and music lovers, God Bless You, and lets all be united.”

Carien Loubser: “To get so many people (musicians and crew) together is usually a tough task, but all of this came together seamlessly. This just shows how much love and respect there is for Johnny within the South African music community. The energy on this day was infectious and the experience of ‘coming together’ in celebration of Johnny was truly special. The world is upside-down right now; this ‘Friends of Johnny’ project reminds us what life is actually about: the unstoppable force of collaboration and respect.” 

Dave Matthews: “Juluka mixed culture and music in a way that had never been done.  It broke down barriers. They joined the forces working to expose the hate-filled cruelty of the old South African system. And their music is slamming.” 

David Kramer: “Johnny Clegg is a great South African songwriter and innovator. A man with his own unmistakable voice and vision. It is an honour to have worked with him and call him friend.” 

Kahn Morbee: “For me his story inspired my entire approach to a career in music because he made me believe that in an industry and a country shrouded in a constant state of flux and uncertainty it was possible to actually have a career in music that transcended culture, race, boundaries and borders. He made me believe that you could make popular music that wasn’t frivolous but on the contrary was profound and laden with substance with the power to change a part of the world for the better, even if just for a moment… And best of all, he became an accidental hero because he was in love with the human journey and its diversity and became a magnet and beacon of the magic that can be achieved when we celebrate all of US.” 

Karen Zoid: “Working on this project has been one of the greatest honours of my career. The Crossing is a song about courage and acceptance and being able to navigate difficult times because of the love inside that drives you to keep bearing forward. We, as friends and fans of Johnny sing his words back at him, as to pay respect to him for his humanity and bravery. May this be the guiding light to thousands of children who will benefit from the incredible work done by The Click Foundation, through the Friends of Johnny Clegg Fund.”

Roddy Quin: “It has been an incredible journey working with Johnny Clegg for 26 years. I would like to thank all the musicians who paid tribute to him, also to Paul Bruce-Brand, Kahn, Theo, Karen, Paul Harris and all at Ellerman House for making this possible.” 

Theo Crous: “Johnny has played such an integral part in the musical landscape of South Africa, especially in a time when we, as the Springbok Nude Girls, started. I feel very honoured and proud to be associated with this project.”

Vusi Mahlasela: “Johnny Clegg is a true icon of South African music. I’ve always admired his pioneering sound, going back to the early days of Juluka.  He is a musical soul and he lives his life with the spirit of Ubuntu. I’m deeply honoured to be part of this project, which is going to change the lives of many young South Africans for the better.”

Zolani Mahola: “Johnny Clegg has been a figure I have looked up to since I was a small child. That a white man could find value in the things I called normality … my cultures and my norms; yes, even my black skin in a country which absolutely devalued my experience and my existence … was and still is a wonder. He was one of the first examples of embracing the dichotomy of the South African experience and I’m so happy to honour him with my fellow artists in singing this song which means so much to us all in honour of a man who means so much to all of us. I’m pleased as punch to lend my voice!” 

Friends of Johnny Clegg artists who collaborated on track: Abigail Kubeka, Andre Venter, Andy Mac, Anna Davel, Ard Matthews, Arno Carstens, Bobby van Jaarsveld, Corlea Botha, Craig Hinds, Craig Lucas, Dan Patlansky, Dave Matthews, David Kramer, Dorothy Masuka, Elvis Blue, Emo Adams, Francois van Coke, Franja du Plessis, Gloria Bosman, Jack Parow, Jason Hartman, Jesse Clegg , Jimmy Nevis, Juanita du Plessis, Judith Sephuma, Kahn Morbee, Karen Zoid, Karlien van Jaarsveld, Kurt Darren, Laudo Liebenberg, Lira, Majozi, Mike Rutherford, Paige Mac, Patricia Lewis, Peter Gabriel, Ross Learmonth, Somizi, Stompie Manana, Thandeka Campher, Thembeka Mnguni, Tresor, Vicky Sampson, Victor Masondo, Vusi Mahlasela, Yati Khumalo, Zolani Mahola

Band: Darren Petersen, Henry Steel, Kyle Petersen, Schalk van der Merwe, Theo Crous, Richard Brokensha & the RMB Starlight Classics Orchestra.

Ellerman House:

Private and exclusive, Ellerman House offers 13 rooms and suites, a tranquil spa, two ultra-modern villas, indigenous gardens, spectacular Atlantic Ocean views, and easy access to local attractions. Modern cuisine, an interactive cellar of vintage wines, and an extensive art collection, enhance a world-class experience that is authentically South African.

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