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LUCKY DUBE, South Africa's preeminent recording artist, has garnered four multi-platinum albums and won numerous awards (including five prestigious OK TV awards) in only 10 short years. In so doing he has become one of the most important voices in international music. In 1985, inspired by the likes of Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, and Jimmy Cliff, Lucky gave up a successful career as a traditional Zulu Mbaqanga singer to pursue his Rastafarian beliefs and launch a career as a reggae artist. The album Rastas Never Die, recorded against the wishes of his record company, was banned and consequently met with little success, but he rushed back into the studio and created Think About the Children almost in secrecy. It was an immediate success, eventually going gold. Lucky's career as a reggae artist took root.
Despite the banning of some songs by the South African government then still at the height of apartheid, his next album Slave went gold. Subsequent recordings, Together As One, Prisoner, House of Exile, Captured Live, Victims, and Trinity were trenchant works filled with lyrics dealing with social issues and spiritual inspiration. Meanwhile Lucky embarked on the most relentless international touring schedule since Bob Marley, becoming popular in Europe, America, the Caribbean, and most notably throughout Africa, where he became the best selling artist of the '80s and '90s.
Lucky's rich, buttery voice - capable of soaring through three octaves - and dynamic stage antics is described by one reviewer "like some manic Olympic marathoner... effortlessly, he will demonstrate his three-octave vocal range. Slipping from his Peter Tosh-like midrange to his shades of Smokey Robinson highs, the bass deep and feral, all the while jerking his Zulu kick in vivid syncopation." His music is resplendent in its intertwining of African musical forms - Mbaqanga (traditional Zulu) and Soukous (West African soca) with roots rock reggae. Lucky is one of those rare artists who is able to combine supremely melodic songs with lyrical substance and his series of best-selling recordings transcend commercial trends marking him as one of the most exciting live performers in the world. It's not surprising, then, that his performance at the 1996 International Music Awards in Monte Carlo was the hit of the globally televised event.
Traditionally, reggae has been a music entrenched in social commentary. It's fitting that Lucky, possibly the most popular and talented roots reggae artist, would hail from South Africa, a country now undergoing major democratic reform after more than 50 years of the racially divisive apartheid system.
Dube has chronicled the struggles, hopes, and issues of South Africa and the world at large through his music, keeping the fight for freedom in the minds and hearts of people all over the world.
Lucky added to his stunning musical legacy in 2000 with a release on Shanachie entitled The Way It Is. The year 2001 saw the release of Soul Taker on Wrasse Records.
Check out his website: www.luckydube.net.