After the end of apartheid, Clegg dropped off America's musical radar, but he remains well known in Europe and even in Canada, to judge by the substantial cross-border contingent that has shown up at his occasional Ark shows. Known by some as the White Zulu, and fluent in that language, Clegg has appeared in the past with a small group of imposing female Zulu singers and dancers, making music reminiscent of a more idealistic Paul Simon from his Graceland era. These South African musicians are quite something to see in the placid Midwest. But almost from the beginning Clegg was more than simply a novelty, a white musician who had mastered Zulu music, and his musical mixtures have helped him express the universal messages that give his music its power.
Clegg's songs include a good deal of British rock, and they probably both influenced and were influenced by Peter Gabriel. He comes to the Ark on July 10 with a fairly recent album, Human (as recent as we get them here), that leans toward the rock side, although it contains plenty of South African material, and it mixes the two in new fusions. One of the most exciting of the new songs is "Love in the Time of Gaza," which applies Zulu refrains to rock music and a lyric about a young Palestinian "dreaming of a girl--in her eyes, love and friendship, but will she understand my world?" Now in his sixties, Clegg can still, like James Brown, do a stage kick that raises his foot above his head. He's a legend; he did nothing less than help change the world; and it's well worth taking the long view and experiencing him once or more.
[Originally published in July, 2012.]
You might also like: