Zune partners with Gallo Music Group to bring South African music to the U.S.

Bringing an important collection of world music onto the digital stage, Microsoft Corp. today announced that the Zune division and South Africa’s Gallo Music Group have created an exclusive partnership to digitally offer a collection of music from Gallo’s esteemed catalog for the first time. Fifty albums spanning nearly eight decades of South African music will be available for a la carte and Zune Pass subscription downloads on Zune Marketplace beginning today.

“As a longtime fan of world music and the Gallo label in particular, it’s impossible for me to overstate what an exciting development this is for the world music community,” said Jon Kertzer, senior music programmer at Microsoft and the host of a popular world music radio program on Seattle-based KEXP-FM. “This is an amazing introduction to South African music, and we look forward to making more of the Gallo catalog available in the future.”

The Gallo catalog represents the entire recorded history of South African music from the 1930s to today. From well-known songs such as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which was originally released in South Africa before becoming an international hit, to Grammy-winning artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Gallo catalog encompasses a broad range of genres and sounds. Although the catalog is dominated by traditional South African hooks, Gallo sees a lot of American influence in its sound and believes it brings a different perspective to the world music genre.

“It is with great pleasure that Gallo Music Group has partnered with an online innovator like Microsoft to share the best of South African heritage and make nearly 80 years of Gallo music available to U.S. consumers,” said Ivor Haarburger, CEO of Gallo Music Group. “We’re excited to bring the best of artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lucky Dube and Simphiwe Dana to American music fans as we transform Gallo from a traditional record label into a company that delivers rich content to multiple platforms in a variety of ways.”

Each week in May, Zune Marketplace will focus on sounds from a different era in addition to current chart-topping rock, reggae, hip-hop and pop music artists from South Africa. For four weeks, the Zune Marketplace editorial team will pair featured albums and playlists with insightful editorial content to help tell the story of this rich musical legacy, the majority of which has never been released in the United States in any format, physical or digital.

Week one kicks off with an overview of the Gallo catalog, which spans nearly eight decades. Week two will feature the sounds of the 1950s through 1970s, including kwela, Zulu jive and mbaqanga, a style that melds traditional Zulu dance rhythms with classic American soul and R&B. Week three will focus on the sounds of South African gospel and jazz. Week four will highlight today’s best music from the region, including the platinum-selling and AVO Session Award-winning artist Simphiwe Dana.

“The diverse sounds of South Africa are brought to life in the music of the Gallo catalog, and we are excited to share that with a new audience,” said Chris Stephenson, general manager of marketing for the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. “It’s an honor to partner with such a legend in the industry to bring such rich content to world music lovers in the U.S.”

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