In the mix, we spotlight some well-known groups and vocalists. Here are a few insights into the artists that form the basis of today’s special posting.
Julia Yende’s strong vocal talent rose her to the top. She started first with the Dark City Sisters in the early 1960s, and then in the Mahotella Queens from 1966. Her talent earned her the love of king Mahlathini and then, following a brief spell in the Queens recording and touring line-ups, a group of her own: the Mthunzini Girls (previously one of the loose pseudonyms used for the Queens).
By all means a first-rate act, the one and only Dark City Sisters were a vital part of the mbaqanga girl group scene of the 1960s. Formed in 1958 and quickly becoming South Africa’s most popular female group of the early ‘60s, the Sisters were at the forefront of the shift from the old marabi swing rhythms to the harder, sturdier and yet more traditional jive sound of the 1960s. At the helm of the group in spite of an ever-changing line-up was the sweet-voiced Joyce Mogatusi. Various groupings of the Sisters also recorded as the Killingstone Stars and the Flying Jazz Queens. Some of the most significant voices to grace the Sisters throughout the years aside from the great Mogatusi include Nunu Maseko, Esther Khoza, Grace Msika, Audrey Zwane, Doris Ntuli and Emily Zwane. After the formation of the Mahotella Queens and subsequent growth of Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje, the Sisters were forced to update their soft styling to the new, tough mbaqanga. The Sisters remained popular and active, but in the shadow of these new, younger groups. After a brief split in 1971, the group returned with Joyce at the helm in 1973.