Jabu Khanyile

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Jabu Khanyile
Born(1957-02-28)28 February 1957
OriginSoweto, South Africa
Died12 November 2006(2006-11-12) (aged 49)
GenresJazz, African music, World music
Years activeearly 1980s–2006
LabelsGallo, Island

Jabu Khanyile (28 February 1957 – 12 November 2006)[1] was a South African musician and lead vocalist from the band Bayete.

Life and career[edit]

Khanyile was born in Soweto, and was forced to abandon his education at the age of fourteen in order to earn a living, after his mother died.[2][3] His father was a miner and performed traditional a capella songs, and his brother John played in a reggae and soul covers band.[2] Jabu followed them into music, first joining a local band called The Daffodils, and in 1974 joining John's band The Editions as a drummer, later becoming the group's vocalist.[2] In 1977 he moved on to The Movers, and by 1984 Khanyile had joined Bayete as drummer, a band that combined Afro-jazz and reggae. Bayete split up in 1992, and Khanyile embarked on a solo career, with releases credited to Jabu Khanyile & Bayete, although none of the original members of Bayete were involved by this time.[1] Khanyile became known internationally in 1996 after an appearance at the Royal Gala evening in honour of Nelson Mandela.[2]

In 1996 and 2000 he won the Kora award for best Southern African artist. He performed internationally with Youssou N'Dour, Angelique Kidjo and Papa Wemba.[2] He was known for his Pan-Africanist approach to music, attempting to unite different African styles.[4] He generally performed in a Zulu costume carrying a trademark fly-whisk, an African symbol of royalty.

Khanyile performed at the Live 8 concert in Johannesburg in July 2005.[1] His final public appearance was in July 2006 at the "Africa Calling" handover ceremony at the end of the World Cup in Berlin.[1]

He died in November 2006 after a battle with diabetes and prostate cancer.[5]


  • Mmalo-We (1993) Island/Teal
  • Africa Unite (1996) Mango
  • Umkhaya-Lo (1996) Mango
  • The Prince (1999) Gallo/Wrasse
  • Thobekile (2000) Teal
  • Umbele (2001) Gallo
  • Wankolota (2005) Gallo
  • Hiyo Lento (2005) Stern's


  1. ^ a b c d Lusk, John (2006) "Obituaries: Jabu Khanyile", The Independent, 16 November 2006
  2. ^ a b c d e Larkin, Colin (1998) The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0242-9, p.21-22
  3. ^ "Bayete (Khanyile) (South Africa)", music.org.za
  4. ^ Jabu Khanyile & Bayete Archived 2011-07-09 at the Wayback Machine, The Leopard Man's African Music Guide, accessed 13 November 2006.
  5. ^ "Musician Jabu Khanyile dies of cancer", IOL, 12 November 2006