Saturday, July 03, 2004

Disney v. Lion Song Composer

"A poor South African family is taking US entertainment giant Disney to court for unpaid royalties from the hit song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", originally a Zulu tune composed by their late father, lawyers said on Friday...Linda was a Zulu migrant worker and entertainer who composed the song "Mbube" (lion) in Johannesburg in 1939 and recorded it with a singing group called the Evening Birds. "Mbube" was an instant hit and would later become one of the most famous melodies from Africa.

"Folk singer Pete Seeger came across the song in New York in 1949, and in his autobiography relates how he transcribed it "note for note" and called it "Wimoweh" from the Zulu "uyiMbube" which means "He is a lion". In 1961, the Tokens recorded the song and added the English lyrics starting with "In the jungle, the mighty jungle".

"Since then, the song has been recorded by more than 150 different artists and features in at least 15 movies and stage musicals."

From the South Africa Sunday Times , thanks to Artsjournal.