Sheer Publishing is proud to announce that it now represents Songe Music in a deal signed with Lucille Lakier Smith, the daughter of Bertha Egnos, Effective 1 January 2015. Her mother, together with sister Gail Lakier, created South Africa’s biggest musical hit so far, ‘Ipi ‘N’ Tombi’.
Ipi Ntombi tells the story of how a rural black man must leave his village home and wife to become an exploited worker on the Johannesburg mines. The show was also produced under the name Ipi Tombi; both titles, however, are corrupted transliterations of the Zulu phrase “iphi intombi”, which when translated into English, roughly means “where is the girl?” The original name for the musical was in English, and is perhaps more descriptive of the protagonist’s character: The Warrior.
The musical was written by the South African writers Bertha Egnos Godfrey and her daughter Gail Lakier. The style of the score for the musical is imitative of many indigenous and local music traditions.
The show was performed in Johannesburg in 1974, and as a result of its local success, toured internationally. The production starred Margaret Singana, and despite its lack of outright condemnation of Apartheid, the show successfully toured Nigeria, Canada, the U.S., and England, winning international acclaim in the process. In London’s West End the show played at Her Majesty’s Theatre (1976), and in New York it played on Broadway at the Harkness Theatre (1977). In 1976, while at Her Majesty’s Theatre, the production was nominated for the Sir Laurence Olivier award for Best New Musical.
The sleeve notes on the 1973 release of the LP album, Ipi Ntombi, read as follows:
This is AFRICA! Her Pulse! Her People! Her Music!
Where heart surgeon and Witchdoctor still vie for popularity. Where Boer settler and Zulu Warrior once engaged in bloody battle. Where Tradition and Custom are being replaced by transistor radios. For a few Centuries Africa’s poets and composers have written and sung countless songs about her, trying to capture in rhyme the magic of this vast Continent. In this set we present ten such songs, ranging from Traditional Folklore, to the more modern Township Jive. Performed here by “Ipi ‘N Tombia”, one of the most exciting groups ever to emerge out of Africa, this could possibly be the start of an exciting new era in music. Whatever the outcome, we are sure that lead singer Margaret Singana must certainly gain International recognition based on her incredible performances on this Album.
In addition to the wonderful music of Ipi Tombi the catalogue also includes Tula Tula, also known as Tula Baba. Bertha Egnos, first recorded Tula Tula in 1930, re-wrote it with Eddie Domingo and Basil Gray in 1964 for the film Dingaka.
The iconic South African lullaby has been recorded by artists as diverse as Andre Rieu and Miriam Makeba amongst a list of many others.
At Sheer Publishing we are grateful to be the current caretakers of such an important part of South African musical history