More than 50 prominent South African artists have recored a special version of the soulful track originally released by Johnny Clegg, titled “The Crossing”, to honour the icon and his work as he faces an ongoing battle with cancer.
In August the much-loved South African musician shared that he was struggling with cancer on social media, revealing that he has battled stage 2 pancreatic cancer since 2015. The community and his fans were shaken and moved by his heartbreaking story of determination and resolve.
Local artists decided to come together to record the tribute to the South African legend, who has made, and continues to make, an indelible mark on music history.
On December 5 the song, along with its specially-filmed video, was played to Johnny for the first time at a private event where he performed for lifelong fans and friends.
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.”
Paul Bruce-Brand, Ellerman House’s General Manager and a 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.”
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 the tribute version of “The Crossing” will go toward this fund. They will be distributed by the Click Foundation which provides an online phonetics-based programme targeted at young learners in centres across the country. The foundation is ultimately aimed at creating a better future for the youth of South Africa — a cause close to Johnny’s heart.
Singer, songwriter, dancer, anthropologist, and musical activist, Johnny Clegg makes infectious crossover music that brings together a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms. His music is known to have broken barriers in South Africa. With an award-winning career spanning over three decades, Clegg has sold over five million albums worldwide, bringing people from all backgrounds together.
Many of the artists involved in the recording of “The Crossing” at Mothership Studios had flown into Cape Town to share their time and talent. The song was produced by Theo Crous and mastered in Los Angeles by Lurssen, a multi-Grammy-award-winning studio. Emotions were high when the song was presented to Johnny Clegg, with smiles all round and a wonderful sense of camaraderie amongst fellow artists and friends, brought together by their love and admiration for him.
The tribute version of “The Crossing” 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 www.friendsofjohnnyclegg.co.za.