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MUSIC star Johnny Clegg is to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, three weeks after he becomes the first South African music act to present his own show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and a month after he gives his first theatrical performances in Durban in more than two decades.
The UKZN Honorary Doctor of Music degree, to be presented on the Durban campus on April 16, is in recognition of a music career that “demonstrates pride in the African heritage”, and for “pioneering scholarly research (that has) delved into the most contentious issues of Zulu cultural adaption, including adaptive social performance practices and indigenous forms of conflict resolution”.
It won’t be the first doctorate awarded to Clegg – he received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Dartmouth College in the US last June, and an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree from City University of New York in 2011.
“At least I will have something to fall back on one day,” he jokes.
Clegg was last in Durban in May, when he broke attendance records for a concert at the Botanic Gardens, attracting 7 000 fans.
He will perform A South African Story, a two-act production chronicling his life and success, with his six-member band at The Playhouse Opera from March 13 to 16.
The show highlights the best elements of two similarly titled productions that Clegg staged pre-democracy and immediately post-democracy, he says.
Tickets range from R171 to R315 at Computicket.
“It is an intimate show with me sharing stories, anecdotes, funny moments and a lot of history, and cobbling together hits and interesting songs from my 22 albums.
“It is unscripted and has a rather loose format which could change from night to night,” he says.
On March 27, Clegg takes the same show to London’s Royal Albert Hall, where 2 300 of 4 000 available tickets have sold in less than than two weeks of going on sale.
“I am really excited. There has been some serious media attention in the UK about it, and I have landed an in-depth interview on BBC TV’s Hard Talk which reaches an audience of about 300 million viewers,” he says.
“Performing at the Royal Albert Hall will be a high-water mark for me. I was last there in 1998, when we had four shows with Savuka as a support act for Steve Winwood.”
After the London date Clegg returns to South Africa for a variety of engagements, the first being a private function in Limpopo.
“Direct from the Royal Albert Hall to Limpopo,” he laughs.
He will spend October on a concert tour of France, and is considering a July/August tour of America and also Canada, where his musician son, Jesse, is now based, and has recorded a second album.
Clegg and his wife, Jenny, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day.