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Gallo Records celebrates 95th anniversary with podcast series

The Gallo Vault Session is available on all major podcast platforms. Supplied image.

The Gallo Vault Session is available on all major podcast platforms. Supplied image.

Published May 21, 2022


Johannesburg - Music is far more than just an array of vocal and instrumental sounds.

It has the ability to shape culture, create and hold history and unite people from all walks of life.

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Gallo Records, the country’s largest and oldest recording company, has for almost a century, created a platform to achieve this, even through the nation’s darkest days.

In a bid to celebrate its 95th anniversary, Gallo Records, in collaboration with Konjo, a pan-African creative research and cultural consultancy, has created a podcast series that delves into the history of South African music and how it was shaped by culture.

The Gallo Vault Session, a six-part series also analyses the stories behind the music, including the late Lucky Dube’s success and how apartheid and the SABC’s restrictions shaped music as a whole in South Africa.

Konjo researcher and producer, Zara Julius explained to the Saturday Star this week that the recording company has a vast archive of material and content and that this podcast will allow them to revisit this content and to bring it to the attention of the younger generation.

“The podcast will bring context to the music the youth grew up listening to and will also bring more meaning to the music that is being produced today.”

Konjo researcher and producer, Zara Julius. Supplied image.

But for older audiences who lived through apartheid as well as South Africa’s transition to democracy, Julius believes that The Gallo Vault session will bring a sense of nostalgia and excitement.

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“I expect the podcast to be received in a variety of ways depending on the audience.

“I hope the podcast allows the music and the history to have a different life now and for a different audience to meet this music,” she said.

Julius said the podcast will also revisit painful moments in the country’s history and will allow for new conversations and narratives to be formulated and explored.

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But for Gallo Records, the podcasts are also an opportunity to bring the history of the iconic music label as well as its esteemed artists, producers and songwriters to the present day.

“Through the podcast platform, we celebrate and mark the 95 years milestone of South African and pan African music whilst unpacking the journey of the songs and the artists through the lens of the people who were close to the process when the music was made.”

The label believes that its story is relevant for the entire world and that it provides context to the origins of the modern music that is loved today and the influence it’s drawn from this rich 95 year catalogue through the generations.

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The Gallo Vault Session, which releases an episode once a month, will host musical legends such as Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Anton Goosen as well as radio veterans, former Gallo managing directors and sound engineers.

Sipho Hotstix Mabuse. Supplied image.

Some of the topics that will be explored will include Radio Bantu, how the SABC was controlled and set up to segregate music by race as well as ethnic groups and vernacular language.

Julius added that the first of its kind podcast has also been produced by an entirely African and female team who worked on all aspects including artwork, design, research, producing, technical work and engineering.

“A lot of times African stories are written by people outside of Africa but now we are telling our own stories about our own lives and our own history,” she said.

“It details African music from African creators, situating our stories in their own context divorced from often-distorted Western Interpretation,” Gallo Records said.

Julius admitted that due to the vast amount of Gallo material, a lot of work has been done to put The Gallo Vault Session podcasts together.

“A lot of research went into going through Gallo’s archives, as well as sitting down and conducting the interviews and really pulling the threads that seemed to be untold or partially told or not told with much nuance.”

The late Lucky Dube’s career is discussed on the podcasts. Supplied image.

Meanwhile, Gallo Records believes that podcasts were the perfect platform to tell their own stories in commemoration of the label’s 95th anniversary.

“We are interacting with audiences through virtual communities and connecting with our fans in an environment they are comfortable with,” the label said.

“The podcast is intimate and entertaining and it’s about storytelling and connecting across the globe.”

Gallo also prides itself as the soundtrack of the South African music scene and believes that its music is in the fabric of South African and African culture.

“We are the pathfinders, originators of the music ecosystem, and we’ve been there from the start,” they said.

The label added that they have been on the forefront of scouting talent and developing acts not only for South African consumption but also for international markets.

“Gallo developed a diverse array of genres – from Gospel, Hip Hop to Maskandi, Kwaito and Reggae to name a few. Gallo continues to develop artists and be in the forefront of remodelling itself to new business models,” the label said.

The Gallo Vault Session is available on all major podcast platforms.

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