American World Music artist Paul Simonwill be headlining at Hard Rock Callingfestival on the 15th of July inHyde Park,London. He will be performing his Grammy Award winning albumGraceland (first released in 1986) to celebrate it’s 25th anniversary celebration. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is joining him, a firstGraceland reunion in theUK since 1987.
Although a great success since it’s release,Graceland lit up several debates at the time. One concerned the international cultural boycott onSouth Africa’s apartheid regime; Simon recorded the majority of the album in the country, featuring many South African artists. This was considered by some as a breaking the cultural boycott. The UN Anti Apartheid committee however defended Paul Simon as album displayed the talent of South African artists which was unrelated to the Apartheid regime.
Paul Simon also faced accusations of leading an imperialistic project, where South African artists, who were relatively inexperienced with the international music industry, were ‘used’ and considered as inferior. However, groups such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo were exposed to a global audience due to the success of the album, and have certainly profited form their collaboration with Paul Simon. In fact, the African group went on to release their own album which included collaborations with foreign artists.
With these controversies,Graceland not only drew attention the political situation inSouth Africa, it was also a launching pad for South African music internationally. The album was alsoespecially influential in the commercialization of World Music; being the first great hit in world music, it opened the doors to a wider audience for the then still small niche of world music lovers.
Here is a trailer about Paul Simon's documentary forGraceland's25th anniversary: Under the African Sky