Dizu Plaatjies, the son of a Xhosa traditional healer, grew up in the Cape Town township of Langa in South Africa. Behind his warm smile is a serious and spiritual person. Dizu is the founder and former leader of South Africa’s internationally celebrated marimba group, Amampondo.

He led Amampondo in many performances from busking as a band of drummers on the streets of Cape Town to concert stages from Canada to China and dozens of lands in between. The group played more than once at the Edinburgh Festival and they wowed crowds at the Mandela Birthday Concert in Wembley Stadium. Their show, Feel the Pulse of Africa ran to packed houses at Johannesburg’s Market Theatre and the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.  The live recording from this show became their first commercial album success, being released in the USA and Europe as well as at home.

Dizu´s compositions and arrangements of traditional songs appear on 7 albums by his former group. His ability and willingness to collaborate with other artists is one of his many talents. In a project entitled, Intsholo, he worked with William Haubrich in arranging African music for a brass quintet, marimbas and percussion. In another direction his playing can be heard on the Techno-Dance tracks of Juno Reactor, with whom he also appeared on stage in Japan.

After over 15 years of touring he recorded his first solo album in 2005, entitled, Ibuyambo. The CD was released together with a stage show. This event featured Dizu with most of the players with whom he recorded the album, performing in his hallmark body paint and featuring dance and costumes inspired by traditional outfits of the peoples of the southern African region.

On the album Dizu has liberally mixed various traditional African instruments and songs with his own original lyrics and melodies. For example on the title track, Ibuyambo, he has arranged a melody from Zimbabwe for marimbas associated with Mozambique and placed a Congolese choir over the instruments. On Equonce, he applies elements of Hip-Hop music and the tongue clicks of the San people, to the rural chant from children’s game. In this way he has created a unique neo-traditional blend of sounds

Since going solo he has done several international tours including being chosen to showcase his group at the Womex in Seville, and shows in Canada, France, Germany, Algeria, Morocco, Oman and a 3 week long tour in Holland.

His second solo recording, African Kings is a project using traditional instruments (Mbira, Uhadi, Uhube, Akadinda – to name a few) and the maskandi style acoustic guitar. The production approach is more contemporary than his previous neo-traditional recordings. The album won a prestigious SAMA award in May 2009 as the Best Alternative African Album.

As teacher and he has recently visited the USA, Australia, and Scandinavia  to lead workshops. He has performed in the Czech Republic, where his collaboration with local folk artist Jiri Pavlica has made Dizu a major attraction in that country being awarded a gold record for their recordings together.

His current live act (known as Dizu Plaatjies and the Ibuyambo Ensemble) of 7 multi-instrumentalists cover repertoire from his work of over 25 years while always offering something fresh. There is singing and dancing and performance using many rare and wonderful African instruments he has collected in his career.

When not touring he spends his time teaching at the University of Cape Town’s Music College.

Photo Gallery:

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