Reflecting on the passing of Nelson Mandela, I remembered one of the first times I had heard about him, which was during the media coverage of the fight against apartheid in South Africa. More specifically, there was a song and video featuring musicians speaking out against apartheid, which was similar to the USA for Africa “We Are the World” collaboration, and was even recorded in the same year (1985).
Little Steven from the E Street Band helped to spearhead the Artists Against Apartheid effort, to raise awareness about a casino in South Africa called Sun City and its ties to the apartheid government. The song “Sun City” served as their pledge to never perform at the casino.
I had never heard the song on the radio, but the video got decent airplay on the local UHF station here in New York (U-68 used to have its own music video programming in the 1980s).
The song features performers as varied as Run-D.M.C., U2, Hall & Oates, Kurtis Blow, Bruce Springsteen, Lou Reed, Pat Benatar, Matt Johnson from the band The The, George Clinton, Gil-Scott Heron, Bob Dylan, Nona Hendricks…you name it. It isn’t really surprising to see the full line up, which contains many musicians who have never shied away from speaking up and singing about social injustice.
What’s interesting to note is that, despite the subject matter, it really does seem like these performers had a great time singing and dancing while opposing apartheid.
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist
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