On May 1, 2014 Johnny Clegg, one of South Africa’s most celebrated artists, brought his blend of African Zulu rhythms and Western Pop to the Aladdin's Theater in Portland, Oregon. While he's not a household name in the United States, over the past three decades, Clegg has sold over five million albums worldwide.
Clegg's son Jesse Clegg opened the evening for an unplugged alternative rock set. The younger Clegg's 2008 debut album When I Wake Up, and his 2011 follow up, Life On Mars, have both made the 25-year-old a platinum-selling success in South Africa.
From the moment the Jonny Clegg band hit the stage, his haunting refrain Impi (meaning “Zulu warriors” or "War") captivated the audience many of whom danced from the opening song until the end of the second encore. As he performed songs like Great Heart from the movie Jock of The Bushveld and The Crossing (written for Dudu Ndlovu, his Zulu dance partner in the Savuka era), the theater moved in unison. These two songs have achieved anthem status with crowds in his home country and based on the audience reaction, they have a similar response in Portland as well.