Nearly 40 years after he began one of music’s most remarkable careers, iconic South African musician Johnny Clegg is returning for one last round of concerts throughout North America this fall to thank his fans on “Johnny Clegg: The Final Journey,” as he copes with the realities of his cancer.
Clegg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatment. He continued a busy worldwide touring schedule while coping with treatment. Currently, he is finishing an autobiography of his incredible life story and groundbreaking career, a multi-generational journey combining near matchless music success with sustained ― and significant ― social, political and cultural impact.
The limited 12-city North American leg of the “The Final Journey World Tour” is supported by Clegg’s world-class live band and features an audiovisual element with highlights of Johnny’s extraordinary career. His North American farewell follows a string of sold-out overseas performances in London, Dubai, and his native South Africa. The fall leg launches Oct. 14 in Boston and then heads to Canada for three dates before returning to the U.S. for just four East Coast stops (New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Concord, NH), one Midwest performance (Chicago), and two West Coast dates (San Diego and Seattle) before concluding Nov. 2 in Boulder, CO. Clegg’s New York visit will be a special two-nighter at B.B. King’s in Times Square (Oct. 23-24), the only multi-night run on the tour.
A live album recorded during the overseas portion of “The Final Journey” will be released during the North America trek.
A singer, songwriter, dancer, anthropologist and musical activist, Clegg exploded onto the international music scene while breaking barriers in his South African homeland by defying apartheid with two highly successful inter-racial bands, Juluka and Savuka. In the late 1970s, Clegg and Sipho Mchunu formed Juluka, South Africa’s first mixed-race band, resulting in two platinum and five gold albums. In 1986, Clegg formed Savuka, whose debut album, Third World Child, went double platinum with sales of over two million. The second album, Shadow Man, was Grammy nominated for Best World Music Album in 1993, shortly before Savuka disbanded.
Clegg and Mchunu temporarily rebooted Juluka three years later, recording Ya Vuka Inkunzi (also released as Crocodile Love). Since then, Clegg has recorded several solo projects including One Life (2007), New Survivor (2002) and A South African Story (2003). In 2010, Human, his first North American release in 17 years, he celebrated 30 years as a performer. Clegg performed 45 shows in 67 days across North America in 2014, supporting his second Appleseed Records release, “Best, Live & Unplugged at the Baxter Theatre.”
Through Juluka and Savuka, Clegg pioneered a uniquely South African music hybrid during a time of cultural and racial segregation. His music always has offered a vision of how South Africans could find each other, and the possibilities of a non-racial future. “The Final Journey” is built around Clegg’s unparalleled repertoire, beginning with the 1979 release of Juluka’s Universal Man and continuing through the Savuka years and his solo work.
“I am immensely excited,” says Clegg, “to be able to bring to my fans around the world an autobiographical, audiovisual and intimate account of my life through my music and The Dance.”
Clegg’s recorded output as part of Juluka, Savuka and as a solo artist has earned him millions of record sales, countless awards and nominations and multiple international releases, all eagerly consumed by a truly global audience. He was the first to combine Western and African musical styles, sparking a revolution in South African music that still can be heard today through a number of artists.
Most potently, Clegg’s ability to illuminate the connectedness of all human beings through his music makes him a pioneer of social cohesion in South Africa. He also provided a portal for international audiences to gain a deeper understanding of the anti-apartheid movement and the journey toward, and ultimately into, freedom. For this, Clegg has received many different honors including an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire), the South African Order of Ikhamanga, and the French Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (Knight of Arts and Letters), as well as several honorary doctorates.
“Johnny Clegg: The Final Journey World Tour” presents the most powerfully emotional live shows of a truly singular South African – a dancer, anthropologist, singer, songwriter, academic, and activist like no other.