More than 50 local artists have recorded a special version of Johnny Clegg’s soulful track ‘The Crossing’, paying tribute to the music legend. Photo: Anelia Loubser
Cape Town – More than 50 local artists have recorded a special version of Johnny Clegg’s soulful track The Crossing, paying tribute to the music legend at a private event where he performed for friends and lifelong fans in Bantry Bay.

The song and accompanying video, filmed in September, were played to Glegg for the first time.

Among the artists were Abigail Kubeka, Dave Matthews, David Kramer, Kahn Morbee, Karen Zoid, Theo Crous, Vusi Mahlasela, Zolani Mahola and Lira.

The same evening at Ellerman House saw the launch of Friends of Johnny Clegg, a fund created in Clegg’s honour to help alleviate the education crisis in South Africa.

Singer, songwriter, dancer, anthropologist and musical activist, Clegg’s infectious crossover music - a vibrant blend of Western pop and African Zulu rhythms - exploded on to the international scene and broke through barriers in South Africa.

All proceeds from downloads of this special version of The Crossing will go towards the fund. The proceeds will be distributed by the Click Foundation, which targets young pupils with an online phonetics-based programme in centres across the country, ultimately aimed at creating a better future for the youth of South Africa - a cause close to Glegg’s heart.

When the special version of The Crossing was unveiled on Wednesday, Clegg said: “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 passionate music lover, explained how it all transpired: “Roddy Quin, Kahn Morbee, Karen Zoid, Theo Crous, my team and I, together with the other artists in our line-up, wanted to do something special to honour all that Johnny has done and continues to do for music and South Africa.

"Given that our owner, Paul Harris, has a vision for Ellerman House and is passionate about South Africa, it was natural for us to back an ambitious collaborative project.

“Never could we have imagined that it would snowball into something as large as it did. Before we knew it, everyone, from far and wide, wanted to participate. 

"Local artists performed alongside acclaimed international artists Dave Matthews, Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford. It proved to be an overwhelming testament to Johnny Clegg and the extent to which he has touched people’s lives through his music.”

For more information on how to support the cause, please visit the website www.friendsofjohnnyclegg.co.za