Rare Willard Cele Recordings

The Magic GardenMany thanks to The In Crowd and his/her learning2share blog for making these very early Willard Cele tracks available. Willard was the inspiration for many kwela players, maybe including Spokes Mashiyane. Listen to these recordings (Penny Whistle Blues and Penny Whistle Boogie) and you’ll hear quite a different style of kwela to that recorded by the likes of Spokes or Lerole; it almost sounds like US American clarinet jazz.


  1. I was looking for some information about kwela…and I found your site, and it was very usefull for me. I am an italian actress and I was working on a roman by Yvonne Vera, one of the most famous writer from Zimbawe. in The first chapter of this roman, called “Butterfly burning” there is a description of kwela music and the atmosphere in Makokoba around 50s…I invite you to read this incredible roman which tou can find very simply.! Thank you very much…valentina

    1. Unfortunately no one knows what all the kwela and marabi of the 50s is, so – like all the other collectors – you’ve got your work cut out. There are a few compilations of township jazz and jive which are readily available, but they often recycle the same tunes. Your best bet – and the most exciting way of collecting, in my opinion – is to scour second hand sources – in South Africa (judging from your email address) you have the very real opportunity to visit flea markets (in Durban there is even *live* *kwela*!), second hand shops, record shops, house clearance warehouses etc. I *dream* of visiting South Africa and doing this myself! If you find anything good, please let me know. All the best – Chris

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