Baba Mokoena Seakoeng was one of the finest Mbaqanga guitar, and a well known collaborator with Madala Kunene. Today's FREE Song is from South Africa and a result of the cooperation between these two men:
Simon Baba Mokoena was born at Umkumbane in Durban in the late '40. He started making music at the age of 12, playing a home-made guitar made from a five-liter oil container. At 17, he picked up his brother's acoustic guitar and has never looked back. Baba's first gig was with a group called Mhlathi and His Comets, whom he stayed with for four years. Next he met Dick Khoza, a jazz drummer. They formed a small jazz group with Pat Matshikiza on piano and Victor Gaba on bass, playing gigs around Durban.
After two years Baba left the group and went to Johannesburg to play mbaqanga, because he had always wanted to play African music. He played for a group called Izintombi Zamangwane. This was followed by guitar work on Gibson Kente's musicals Sikhalo and How Long.
Baba joined the resident band at the Pelican Night Club, playing with Winston "Mankunku" Ngozi and Khaya Mahlangu, to name but a few. This stint at the Pelican was a chance to explore different kinds of music — mbaqanga, jazz and rhythm and blues — and to meet names like American jazz organ player Jimmy Smith and U.S. group The Realistic.
Baba then moved back to Durban, gigging in clubs playing Top 40 hits until he met Sarafina playwright Mbongeni Ngema. He was impressed and asked Baba to join the band for his musical Township Fever, which opened at Johannesburg's Market Theatre in 1991. The show went on to tour America, opening in New York. After the Township Fever tour, Baba worked with Letta Mbuli and Caiphus Semenya in shows around South Africa. Baba returned to Mbongeni Ngema's company, touring Europe with Sarafina, Magic at 4am and Mama.
On his return from Europe in 1993, Baba added his artful guitar playing to Sipho Gumede's Melt 2000 release, Down Freedom Avenue with Madala Kunene. During the 1994 Outernational Meltdown recordings with MELT 2000 in Johannesburg, Baba met and recorded with Airto Moreira and Jose Neto. In 1999, Baba teamed up with Madala Kunene to prepare the recording of a collaborative album for Melt. The album of Madala Kunene and Baba Mokoena Serakoeng, entitled First Double 1&2, released in 2002, was nominated for the 2003 SAMA awards. Enjoy!