IASPM International Conferences - Proceedings, Situating Popular Musics

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Popular music, folk music, African music: King Kong in South Africa and London
Lindelwa Dalamba

Last modified: 2013-01-22


This paper examines how King Kong: An African jazz opera (1959), which was based on the life of a legendary boxer, challenged three modes of thinking about music that constituted its reception: popular, folk and African music. For black South Africans, King Kong was a staged spectacle of their everyday popular township jazz music. White South Africa's widely covered reception of the production was unpredictable and varied, framed by the idea of “folk”. When King Kong opened in London in 1961, its music underwent different interpretations, framed by the idea of jazz as black music, and black music as African.

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