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|Gallo Record Company|
|Parent company||Arena Holdings|
|Founder||Eric Gallo (Gallo Records), Arnold Golembo (Gramophone Record Company)|
|Distributor(s)||Gallo Music South Africa (South Africa) |
Gallo Music International / Warner Music (international)
|Country of origin||South Africa|
|Official website|| gallo|
Gallo Record Company is the largest (and oldest independent) record label in South Africa.It is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is owned by Arena Holdings. The current Gallo Record Company is a hybrid of two South African record labels, rivals between the 1940s and 1980s: the original Gallo Africa (1926–85) and G.R.C. (Gramophone Record Company, 1939–85). In 1985 Gallo Africa acquired G.R.C.; as a result, Gallo Africa became known as Gallo-GRC. Five years after the acquisition, the company was renamed Gallo Record Company.
Eric Gallo set up a one-man business, the Brunswick Gramophone House, in 1926. The record shop was originally devised to distribute records from the US-based Brunswick Records into South Africa. However, noticing the lack of recording facilities (as well as the amount of local talent) in the country, Gallo decided to form a recording studio in 1932 and, borrowing equipment (and a sound engineer) from the then just-defunct Metropole company in the United Kingdom, Gallo opened the "Gallo Recording Studios" under the auspices of Gallo Africa (using a red rooster as the company's symbol, which remains today). Gallo was South Africa's first recording company and became home to a number of classic recordings, including the infamous "Mbube" (recorded in 1939 by Solomon Linda and his "Original Evening Birds"). A wealth of local artists had recordings released on Gallo's many labels, including "Singer", "Gallotone", "Gallo New Sound", "USA", and many more. African music (or "black music", as it was then known) was produced by Griffith Motsieloa, a local talent scout whom Gallo had recruited to his fold.
Throughout the 1950s, Gallo remained successful, though it was competing against the South African branch of EMI. EMI's African music division, led by black talent scout Rupert Bopape, prospered well into the early 1960s with marabi and African jazz recordings by the Dark City Sisters and others. Gallo lost sales in its own black music unit, led by saxophonist-producer Reggie Msomi and scout Walter Nhlapo, and so, in 1964, the company poached Bopape to join Gallo. Bopape formed the Mavuthela Music Company division of Gallo Africa, recording famous and local mbaqanga and jive artists, and was promoted as "South Africa's Motown" (the acclaimed Mavuthela quintet, the Mahotella Queens, was perhaps the South African equivalent to Motown's trio of stars, The Supremes). Dozens of recordings were issued on labels such as "Motella", "Gumba Gumba", "CTC Star Records", "FGB", "Gallotone", "USA", and many more. Also in the 1950s they started producing the Gallotone guitar.
Arnold Golembo founded the Gramophone Record Company in Johannesburg in 1939. GRC obtained the South African franchise for the Capitol Records label in 1946 (later moved to EMI Brigadiers), and the franchise for CBS Records in 1956.
In 1985, G.R.C. was incorporated into Gallo Africa. The company was named Gallo-GRC, and incorporated Gallo's production stable, Mavuthela, and GRC's production stable, Isibaya Esikhulu. These stables had been fierce rivals from around the mid-1960s up to Gallo's take-over of G.R.C. The company was renamed Gallo Record Company in 1990.
Producers at Gallo included West Nkosi, who was an influential and intimidating figure at the company from 1964 until his death in 1997. Nkosi was a member of the Makgona Tsohle Band, which backed up all of Mavuthela's (1964–1985) mbaqanga artists such as the Mahotella Queens, Abafana Baseqhudeni, Mahlathini, and many others. Nkosi introduced to Gallo some of its most well-known artists – these included Ladysmith Black Mambazo (1972), The Green Arrows (1974), Mpharanyana and the Cannibals (1976), and Amaswazi Emvelo (1978).
Other figures at Gallo over the years have included talent scouts Rupert Bopape and Louis Abel Petersen as well as musician-composer-arrangers such as Shadrack Piliso, Marks Mankwane, Hilda Tloubatla, Lucky Monama, Joseph Shabalala, Simon Mahlathini Nkabinde and Thandi Nkomo, in addition to figures such as Eric Gallo, Peter Gallo, and others.
In 2006, Johnnic Communications (Gallo's parent company, which changed its name to Avusa in November 2007) entered a joint venture with the South African division of Warner Music International, forming Warner Music Gallo Africa, making Gallo Record Company's entire music archive digitally available for the first time. These include rare pressings as well as classic hits by artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Letta Mbulu, Spokes Mashiyane, Lucky Dube, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and others.
The Warner/Gallo joint venture ended in December 2013.
The South African music scene includes both popular (jive) and folk forms like Zulu isicathamiya singing and harmonic mbaqanga. South Africa has a global music industry.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo are a South African male choral group singing in the local vocal styles of isicathamiya and mbube. They became known internationally after singing with Paul Simon on his 1986 album Graceland, and have won multiple awards, including five Grammy Awards, dedicating their fifth Grammy to the late former President Nelson Mandela.
Mbaqanga is a style of South African music with rural Zulu roots that continues to influence musicians worldwide today. The style originated in the early 1960s.
Joseph Shabalala, born Bhekizizwe Joseph Siphatimandla Mxoveni Mshengu Bigboy Shabalala, was a South African singer and musician who was the founder and musical director of the choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The Mahotella Queens is a South African female band formed in 1964 by music producer Rupert Bopape, consisting of Hilda Tloubatla, Nobesuthu Mbadu, and Amanda Nkosi. The group is noted for their distinct vocal harmony sound, guitar-led mbaqanga music, and fast stage dancing.
Simon "Mahlathini" Nkabinde was a South African mbaqanga singer. Known as the "Lion of Soweto", Nkabinde is the acknowledged exponent of the deep-voiced, basso profundo "groaning" style that came to symbolize mbaqanga music in the 1960s. Nkabinde was also a very active live performer in South Africa, recording and performing with the Mahotella Queens and the backing Makgona Tsohle Band from 1964 to 1971, and then again from 1983 to 1999. The Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens act was propelled into international stardom in the wake of Paul Simon's 1986 Graceland album.
Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens were a South African mbaqanga supergroup made up of the three musical acts linked together by talent scout and record producer Rupert Bopape at the Gallo Recording Company in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1964. The group composed of the following three distinct parts:
The Makgona Tsohle Band was a South African instrumental band that is noted for creating the mbaqanga music style. The group was formed in 1964 at Mavuthela, and became the Mavuthela house band. It garnered success by backing fellow Mavuthela-Gallo stars, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. It is often referred to as the South African equivalent to Motown's The Funk Brothers.
The Township Idols is a 2003 compilation album by the South African singing group Mahotella Queens. The group started recording for Gallo Record Company in 1964, initially under different group names in addition to the "Mahotella Queens" name. Although they are prolific recording artists, the songs collected on this album are mainly from the 1990s, licensed from the US-based Shanachie Records.
Hilda Semola Tloubatla is a South African mbaqanga singer, and the lead singer of the acclaimed group the Mahotella Queens. Tloubatla was born in Payneville, Springs in South Africa before moving to kwaThema township in 1951 as a result of the apartheid government's 'Group Areas Act' in the country.
Nobesuthu Gertrude Mbadu Shawe was a South African mbaqanga singer, and a singer in the acclaimed group the Mahotella Queens.
Nontsomi Mildred Mangxola is a South African mbaqanga singer, and a singer in the acclaimed group the Mahotella Queens. Mangxola was born in Benoni, Johannesburg, in South Africa, and loved singing from a young age. She was also a part of local girl group The Daveyton Queens.
Thokozile is a 1986 hit by the South African mbaqanga group Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. The album was a reunion of Mahlathini with the backing Makgona Tsohle Band and three of the original Queens, Hilda Tloubatla, Nobesuthu Mbadu and Mildred Mangxola. The album featured re-recordings of older songs such as "Umculo Kawupheli" and "Sithunyiwe". The album propelled the group into immediate international stardom when it was issued internationally on the Earthworks label.
Paris – Soweto is a 1987 album by the South African mbaqanga group Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. The album was recorded just after the group reunited in 1986, and was one of the first albums to be recorded specifically for the international audience. The album was recorded in Paris and released internationally on the Celluloid label, and under the group's long-standing Gallo label in South Africa. The first single, "Kazet" became one of the group's signature tunes.
Mathaka Vol 1 is a 1983 album by the Makgona Tsohle Band, the instrumental backing group for Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, all of whom were based as musicians in the Mavuthela Music subsidiary of Gallo Africa.
West Nkosi was a South African music producer, saxophonist and songwriter.
The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, later repackaged as The Indestructible Beat of Soweto Volume One, is a compilation album released in 1985 on the Earthworks label, featuring musicians from South Africa, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Mahlathini.
The Dark City Sisters were a South African female vocal group formed in 1958 by music producer Rupert Bopape. They recorded several hit records during the 1960s, helping usher in the mbaqanga style of South African music later brought to global prominence by the Mahotella Queens.
Matodzi Irene Mawela is a South African singer and composer who has been active since the late 1950s. She is known primarily for her contributions to mbaqanga music and songs made in the Tshivenda language, and has contributed to an estimated 1,000 studio recordings and radio transcriptions.