Famous South African Musicians

Find out more about the greatest South African Musicians, including Watkin Tudor Jones, Dave Matthews, Miriam Makeba, Shaun Morgan and Tammin Sursok.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite South African Musicians

 1 

Watkin Tudor Jones
6
Birthdate: September 26, 1974
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Johannesburg

Watkin Tudor Jones, better known as Ninja, is a South African rapper, songwriter, record producer, and director. He is a member of the rap-rave group Die Antwoord. He has been active in the hip hop scene since he was 13 and has played with numerous bands in his career. He is also an occasional actor.

 2 

Miriam Makeba
3
Birthdate: March 4, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Died: November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba was a South African singer, actress, songwriter, civil rights activist, and United Nations goodwill ambassador. One of the first African musicians to make an impact on the international stage, Makeba is credited with popularizing Afropop genres. She also advocated against apartheid through music and played a major role in the civil rights movement.

 3 
Lucky Dube
(Musician)

Lucky Dube
3
Birthdate: August 3, 1964
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ermelo, South Africa
Died: October 18, 2007
Named Lucky by his mother, following his birth after many unsuccessful pregnancies, Lucky Dube grew up to become one of the most influential South African reggae stars ever. His desert reggae made him hugely popular among the Australian aboriginal community, too. The Rastafarian supporter was later killed by carjackers.

 4 
Hugh Masekela
(Former Jazz Trumpeter who was described as)

Hugh Masekela
3
Birthdate: April 4, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Emalahleni Local Municipality, South Africa
Died: January 23, 2018

A pioneer of South African jazz, instrumentalist Hugh Masekela excelled in the trumpet and introduced South African music to countries such as the U.S. He was also a vocal anti-apartheid activist, played for the Jazz Epistles, and was known for his iconic albums such as Hope and Johannesburg.

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 5 
Shaun Morgan
(Singer, Guitarist)

Shaun Morgan
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1978
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pietermaritzburg

Shaun Morgan is a South African singer-songwriter and musician. Morgan has been the longest-serving member of the popular rock band Seether where he plays the guitar and contributes with lyrics and vocals. Shaun Morgan is regarded as one of South Africa's most influential and popular rock guitarists of his generation.

 6 

Brenda Fassie
3
Birthdate: November 3, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Langa
Died: May 9, 2004

Brenda Fassie was a South African dancer, singer, songwriter, and activist. Renowned for her bold on-stage antics, Fassie earned the nickname Madonna of The Townships. Also dubbed the Queen of African Pop, Brenda Fassie won five South African Music Awards and three Kora Awards during her illustrious career. She was also named in the Top 100 Great South Africans list.

 7 
Johnny Clegg
(Musician)

Johnny Clegg
3
Birthdate: June 7, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bacup, Lancashire, England
Died: July 16, 2019

Johnny Clegg was a South African singer-songwriter, musician, dancer, anti-apartheid activist, and anthropologist. An important white figure in the internal resistance to apartheid and a prominent figure in South African popular music, Johnny Clegg formed the band Juluka which became the first South African group in the apartheid era to have a black man as well as a white man.

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 8 
ZP Theart
(Heavy metal singer who first garnered attention as the original singer of British power metal band DragonForce)

ZP Theart
3
Birthdate: May 27, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Clanwilliam, South Africa

ZP Theart is a South African singer-songwriter who is currently serving as the lead vocalist for the popular American rock band Skid Row. He is credited with founding the English heavy metal band I Am I where he performs as the lead vocalist.

 9 
Blondie Chaplin
(Singer, Guitarist)

Blondie Chaplin
3
Birthdate: July 7, 1951
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Durban, South Africa

Blondie Chaplin is a South African guitarist and singer who contributed to the success of the rock band The Flames in the 1960s. He has also served as a backing vocalist, acoustic rhythm guitarist, and percussionist for the world-renowned English rock band The Rolling Stones.

 10 
Ricky Fataar
(Multi-instrumentalist, who has performed as both a drummer and a guitarist)

Ricky Fataar
2
Birthdate: September 5, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Durban, South Africa

Ricky Fataar is a South African multi-instrumentalist and actor. He gained national recognition after playing Stig O'Hara in the popular 1978 television film All You Need Is Cash, a parody of the history of The Beatles. Also known for his work as a record producer, Fataar won the 1983 Countdown Australian Music Award for Best Record Producer of the Year.

 11 
Trevor Rabin
(South African Musician, Guitarist and Former Member of the Progressive Rock Band 'Yes')

Trevor Rabin
3
Birthdate: January 13, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa

Trevor Rabin is a South African singer-songwriter, musician, and film composer. Over the years Rabin has been a prolific film composer, winning several Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) film score awards. He was also an important member of the band Yes; he was made an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 as a member of Yes.           

 12 
Solomon Linda
(Former musician, singer and composer best known as the composer of the song)

Solomon Linda
2
Birthdate: 1909 AD
Birthplace: Pomeroy, South Africa
Died: September 8, 1962

Solomon Linda is best remembered for writing the hit Mbube, later known as Wimoweh and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Part of the Evening Birds, he never got his due and died poor. His family couldn’t afford to build a headstone for his grave until 18 years after his death.

 13 

Yvonne Chaka Chaka
2
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: Dobsonville

Yvonne Chaka Chaka is a South African singer, actress, songwriter, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and teacher. Nicknamed the Princess of Africa, Chaka Chaka has been one of the most prominent figures in South African popular music for nearly three decades. An internationally recognized personality, Chaka Chaka has performed for US President Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II, and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

 14 
Trevor Jones
(composer, film score composer)

Trevor Jones
2
Birthdate: March 23, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cape Town

Trevor Jones is a South African music composer for films and TV series. Jones, whose music is renowned for its depth and emotion, has worked on many successful films like Excalibur, Mississippi Burning, and The Dark Crystal. Over the years he has received critical appreciation as well as nominations for BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Awards.

 15 
Abdullah Ibrahim
(Pianist, Composer)

Abdullah Ibrahim
2
Birthdate: October 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cape Town

South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, known as Dollar Brand, is best remembered for his socially relevant music, such as the jazz piece Mannenberg, which became an anthem for anti-apartheid activists. As part of The Jazz Epistles, he was one of the first black South Africans to record a jazz LP.

 16 
Phil Ramone
(Recording engineer, Record producer, Composer, Violinist)

Phil Ramone
2
Birthdate: January 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: South Africa
Died: March 30, 2013

Phil Ramone was a South African-born American record producer, recording engineer, violinist, and composer. He is credited with co-founding A & R Recording Inc., which went on to become a major independent studio recording company in the United States of America. He is also credited with introducing optical surround sound for films. Ramone won 14 Grammy Awards during his career.

 17 
Jonathan Butler
(Singer-songwriter, Jazz musician, Guitarist, Jazz guitarist)

Jonathan Butler
3
Birthdate: October 10, 1961
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Athlone, Cape Town

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Jonathan Butler is known for his blend of R&B, jazz fusion, and worship music. He first soared to international fame with his Billboard-charting and Grammy-nominated hit Lies. Apartheid has been a main theme of many of his tracks. He won a Sarie Award as a teenager.

 18 
Jack Parow
(Rapper)

Jack Parow
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1982
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Durbanville, South Africa

Jack Parow is a South African rapper who raps predominantly in Afrikaans. Over the years Parow has collaborated with popular musicians and bands like Die Heuwels Fantasties. Parow performed at least once in each of South Africa's nine provinces in 2016 while filming a television series titled Dis Hoe Ons Rol. He also owns an alcohol brand named Parow Brandy.

 19 
Brownie McGhee
(Musician)

Brownie McGhee
2
Birthdate: November 30, 1915
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
Died: February 16, 1996

Brownie McGhee was an American blues singer, songwriter and musician who developed an interest in guitar at the age of six and learned to play the piano at eight. Impressed by itinerant blues musicians, he later dropped out of school to perform at carnivals and minstrel shows, eventually forming a long-lasting partnership with Sonny Terry,  in-between publishing several solo albums, including Brownie's Blues.

 20 
Caron Bernstein
(Actor, Musician, Film actor, Singer, Model, Beauty pageant contestant, Songwriter)

Caron Bernstein
2
Birthdate: August 16, 1970
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Johannesburg

Caron Bernstein is a painter, model, singer-songwriter and actress, all rolled into one. Born in South Africa, she started modeling for Ford Models at the age of fourteen, debuting in films at the age of 22 with Waxwork II: Lost in Time and shifting her focus to singing at the age of 23. Now a successful portrait-painter, she likes to capture the darker side of her subjects.

 21 
Steve Hofmeyr
(Actor, Singer)

Steve Hofmeyr
3
Birthdate: August 29, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pretoria

South African actor-singer Steve Hofmeyr is best known for his role in Egoli: Place of Gold. He is also the former husband of actor Natasha Sutherland. He seems to have turned into controversy’s favorite child, with exaggerated claims of whites being killed in South Africa and his denial of apartheid.

 22 
Jean-Michel Byron
(Singer-songwriter is best known for serving for a time as the lead vocalist for the rock band Toto for new material on their first greatest hits album, Past to Present)

Jean-Michel Byron
2
Birthdate: October 13, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: South Africa

Jean-Michel Byron is a South African-born singer-songwriter best known for his association with the popular rock band Toto where he performed as the band's lead vocalist. Despite Byron's initial success with the band, his soul music background did not complement Toto's rock music which resulted in him being ousted. Apart from making music, Jean-Michel Byron also supports charitable organizations.

 23 
Mbongeni Ngema
(Novelist)

Mbongeni Ngema
2
Birthdate: May 10, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

A South African Zulu, Mbongeni Ngema worked as a manual laborer and a guitarist before venturing into theater and then becoming a playwright and a director. While he created controversy with his play Asinamali!, he gained international repute with Sarafina! He was also a choir director for The Lion King.

 24 
Gemini Major
(Record producer, singer-songwriter)

Gemini Major
0
Birthdate: June 14, 1990
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Blantyre, Malawi

 25 
Tumi Molekane
(Rapper, Poet)

Tumi Molekane
1
Birthdate: August 16, 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tanzania

 26 
Ray Phiri
(Jazz musician)

Ray Phiri
1
Birthdate: March 23, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nelspruit, South Africa
Died: July 12, 2017

 27 
Adina
(Singer-songwriter)

Adina
1
Birthdate: October 3, 1989
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Liberia

Born to a South African father and a Ghanaian mother, award-winning singer Adina Thembi has made waves in the Afro pop scene. Her music also contains elements of Ghanaian folk music and highlife music, mixed with gospel and African pop. Her track Hear Me won her a Vodafone Ghana Music Award.

Nathaniel Willemse
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: South Africa

Nathaniel Willemse found fame with The X Factor Australia in 2012, making his way to the top 6, and never looked back. The South African-Australian singer is known for his soulful voice and his ARIA chartbusting and double platinum track You. He has also been a supporting act for Mariah Carey.

 29 

Dorothy Masuka
1
Birthdate: September 3, 1935
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Died: February 23, 2019

Dorothy Masuka was a jazz singer whose music gained popularity in South Africa during the 1950s. Masuka's music had a strong influence on the people of South Africa, so much so that the government banned her song Dr. Malan which was about difficult laws in the country. She was exiled in 1961 when she performed a song for Patrice Lumumba.

 30 
Gibson Kente
(Playwright)

Gibson Kente
0
Birthdate: July 23, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: East London, South Africa
Died: November 7, 2004

Known as the father of township drama, or Black theater, Gibson Kente was a master playwright, who had also directed How Long (Must We Suffer…)?, the first prominent South African movie made by a Black artist. While dying from HIV, he made a public plea for donations, announcing his bankruptcy.

 31 
Kevin Volans
(Composer, Pianist)

Kevin Volans
0
Birthdate: July 26, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

 32 
Stefan Benz
(Pop Singer)

Stefan Benz
0
Birthdate: September 26, 2006
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: South Africa

Stefan Benz is a South African pop singer who has been winning the hearts of many music lovers all over the world. With songs like Cool 4 Me and Say What's In Your Eyes, Benz has managed to capture the attention of many and is widely being touted as the next Justin Bieber.

 33 
Todd Matshikiza
(Jazz pianist)

Todd Matshikiza
0
Birthdate: 1921 AD
Birthplace: South Africa
Died: March 4, 1968

Todd Matshikiza was a South African composer, jazz pianist, and journalist. He is credited with composing Hamba Kahle which has been cherished over the years as a standard South Africa piece. He is also credited with establishing Todd Matshikiza School of Music where he taught piano to aspiring musicians. He also composed the music for the popular musical King Kong. 

 34 
Zahara
(singer, songwriter)

Zahara
0
Birthdate: November 9, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: East London

Zahara is a South African singer who achieved popularity after releasing her debut album Loliwe in 2011. At the 2012 South African Music Awards, Zahara hogged the limelight by winning eight awards, including Album of the Year and Best Female Artist. She has also won other awards like Africa Entertainment Awards USA, Nigeria Entertainment Award, and African Muzik Magazine Award.

 35 
Daisuke Ishiwatari
(Video game developer, Musician)

Daisuke Ishiwatari
0
Birthdate: August 14, 1973
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa