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Surprise! These are South African Performers!

You’ve probably heard of these artists, or at least their music, be it on Spotify shuffle or from the earphones of a friend with good taste. Be as it may, you probably didn’t know they were South African performers! Read on for the goods – and then you can be “that guy” at the next get-together, starting with “did you know…” before you take the proffered earphone.


First on the list of “Secretly South African” performers is the non-mainstream, easy on the ear band, aKING. Hunter Kennedy and Jaco “Snakehead” Venter, both members of the band Fokofpolisiekar (Fuck Off Police Car), established aKING in 2007. Hunter later left, leaving Laudo Liedenberg (vocals, rhythm guitar), Hennie van Halen (bass guitar), Jaco Venter (drums), and Andrew Davenport (guitar).

Melodic rock is their genre, and their damn good at it. Their first studio album, Dutch Courage  (2008) was shortly followed by Against All Odds in early 2009. In that same year, they shared the stage with major international performers like Oasis and Panic! at the Disco at Coke Zero Fest.

Due to their founding members, the band is associated with Fokofpolisiekar, Die Heuwels Fantasties (The Hills Fantastic), and Van Coke Kartel (Van Coke Cartel).

The Parlotones

Whimsy, comedic, and mad as hell, The Parlotones are a group of Suuth African performers formed in 1998. The group consists of Kahn Morbee (vocals, rhythm guitar), Neil Pauw (drums, percission), Paul Hodgson (lead guitar), and Glen Hodgson (bass guitar, keyboards, baking vocals). The first breath of life was in Johannesburg in 1998, and it’s since become one of SA’s best-selling music artists in history.

Their multi-platinum success is attested to by nine  South African Music Awards, and they became the first ever SA band to fill the headline slot at the Coca-Cola Dome. Their indie rock music have evolved into several genres, and their topics plait love, normal life, and associable topics with catchy and engaging notes.

Fun fact! The released three wines named after their songs. “Giant Mistake” (2009) was a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinotage, and Cabernet Franc. “Push Me to the Floor” (see above video) (2010) was a white blend, and “We Call This Dancing” (2010) was a rosé. The latter was blended from Wellington Pinotage, Shiraz, and 30 different varietals from near Hermanus.

Just Jinjer

In the history of South African performers, the rock band Just Jinjer is was a legendary top-seller. Over 250k units flew off the shelves. Just Jinjer has performed with U2, Def Leppard, and Counting Crows, in the UK and Dubai, and has released six critically acclaimed albums. Of these, their first album, All Comes Round, is the best-selling rock album in South African history.

The second album became certified gold less than a month after its release. Moreover, both the first and second albums are platinum certified. Just Jinjer consists of Ard Matthews (acoustic guitar, vocals), Brent Harris (vocals, drums), and Denholm Harding (bass, vocals).

Established in 1996, they’re still going strong. Their star-topping success is proved by their super simple website: a single email link where they can be booked to rock your world.

Johnny Clegg

Johnny Clegg (1953 – 2019) was a dancer, anthropologist, anti-apartheid activist, singer and songwriter, and (interestingly! French Knight and Officer of the Order of the British Empire. His roots weaved with Israel, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), South Africa, and England. With a background this diverse, it was only fitting that he made waves by partenering with a black man (Mchunu) in the band Juluka during the apartheid era.

His interracial bands, first Juluka and then Savuka, along with his solo career yielded several songs, often with coded political lyrics. However, “Scatterlings of Africa” was the only song that reached No. 44 in the UK Singles Chart in 1983. In 1988, the song was featured in the Oscar-winning movie Rain Man. This cemented Clegg in history.


Probably most known for their song “Indigo Girl” (above), Watershed became a success “by accident”. When a tourist, a German radio DJ, coincidentally heard the song while in SA he played it on-air in Germany. That was the strong start that gave them wings. In 2010, they toured through Germany as part of the Rock Kick Off tour.

Natural success or no, their original tracks and moving lyrics have earned their albums platinum and gold status. They also receive two SAMA awards for best pop album, and won SA’s best band award (People Magazine) numerous times. They’ve performed alongside U2, Gabriel, The Corrs, and many other legends.

Craig Hinds (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano), Gideon Botes (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals), Howie Combrink (drums, vocals, acoustic guitar, ukulele), and Quintin Askes, Paul Mclver (acoustic guitar, vocals) make up the group. Easy on the ear, and perfect for a late-night drive, relaxed background music on whisky nights, or solo listening for any time, Watershed’s musical numbers sounds like “one more”.

Hold on, there’s more:

Inge Strauss