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Gideon (featuring members of Zulu Spear)

Iconic world music dance band Zulu Spear (ZSB) performs Afro-beat and roots music, playing traditional South African mbaqanga rhythms and harmonies with modern and electric instruments.

Zulu Spear have shared the stage with many renowned artists including Ladysmith Black Mombasa, The Neville Brothers, Tom Tom Club, Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, and the Grateful Dead.

The newly reformed ZSB features several members of the BAMMY award-winning 1980's line-up including band leader Gideon Bendile (vocals, drum, dance), Ron Vanleeuwarde (guitar and vocals), and Paajoe Amissah (bass). Newer members include Moeketsi Kiibe (percussion) and Portia Mnyakama (dance and vocals).

Gideon, Ron, and Moeketsi also form the core of Kalahari Experience, an Acapella ensemble that tells traditional South African stories through harmonies, rhythms, dancing, and storytelling .

Gideon Bendile was born in Soweto South Africa in 1951. Gideon has performed and recorded with many musical icons including Hugh Masakela, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Sammy Davis Jr., and Siegfried and Roy . He also appeared on the big screen as a small boy in the highly acclaimed 1964 Stanley Baker movie "Zulu". Heis also well known for his charming performance in The Lion King's "The Circle of Life" song with Elton John.

{Youth in Arts] Gideon Mlungisi Bendile was born in the southwestern township (Soweto) of Johannesburg, South Africa, where he first began his career performing in local musical shows. In 1974, he was invited to join the hit international traveling performance Ipi Intombi, appearing in Paris, London, on Broadway in New York, Scandanavia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East. In 1975, Ipi Intombi won Best Foreign Musical in the Song of Europe Awards and was performed for the Queen of England, ending with a long run in Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, having formed a group called Amazulu, Gideon was interviewed by Dinah Shore, toured with Redd Fox, appeared with Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines, performed for the Jerry Lee Lewis Telethon, and was featured as a guest artist with Siegfried and Roy. He remained in the U.S. and founded Zulu Spear in Northern California, performing both nationally and internationally. He has also worked with the George Coates Performance Works in San Francisco, and with The Africans are Coming in Oakland, and has been funded by the CAC as an Artist in Residence with the Arts in Education program.

Gideon’s joined his longtime friend and fellow South African artist, the much missed Sechaba Mokwena, to form the Zulu Spear band in 1986. In the 1980’s Zulu Spear spread the message of Anti-Apartheid through innovative world music, winning a Bammy music award in 1987 and later signing with Capitol Records (Liberty), Nashville. Zulu Spear still occasionally plays in the Bay Area spreading the message of forgiveness, freedom and peace Gideon continues his musical journey with Kalahari Experience, a South African cappella ensemble featuring members of Zulu Spear and many other talented artists performing traditional South African music through singing, dancing, guitar and various percussion.

Gideon continues his musical journey with Kalahari Experience, a South African cappella ensemble featuring members of Zulu Spear and many other talented artists performing traditional South African music through singing, dancing, guitar and a range of percussion. High energy and surprisingly danceable.

ZULU SPEAR (Excerpts from BAM Magazine 1987)
[The late] Sechaba Mokeoena-Lead singer, composer, dancer and leader of Zulu Spear. Expatriate from Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, started the "U-Zulu Dance Theatere" after defecting from the touring company of the hit show "Ipi Tombi" which eventually led to the formation of Zulu Spear when he moved to the SF Bay Area. He is the driving force in this dynamic blend of South African fusion, traditional African harmonies and modern instruments, which has been labeled "World Beat", Mbaqanga, or as he calls it, "This is the Township Sound. This is the music of South Africa; this is the music of my people".

Mlungisi Gideon Bendile- Born and brought up in Soweto, South Africa, one of the founding members of Ipi Tombi, his rich and vibrating bass voice gives Zulu Spear its distinctive vocal blend. He toured Europe, USA, Austrailia, New Zealand, Israel and Scandanavia with Ipi Tombi, starting his career working as a background singer in the recording studios of Johannesburg.

Ron Van Leeuwarde- From Surinam, South America, playing a burning lead guitar and adding the high harmony to the vocals, Ron''s flashing good looks and stage presence set him apart as the hearthrob of the group, yet he is a serious musician who works very hard at his craft. He has been with Sechaba since the very first rehearsal of Zulu Spear.

Morgan Nhlapo- An electric force on stage, he was also with Ipi TYombi. Morgan and Gideon had a group called Amazulu Dance Company when Sechaba called them to join Zulu Spear. He and Sechaba originally met while both were being detained in Johannesburg for being out after curfew without having a "pass".

More recently new members have joined Zulu Spear for performances at the Ashkenaz in July 2010, and with Gideon’s Acapella project Kalahari Experience

Gibe Moeketsi – Percussion and vocals.

Portia Noludwe Mnyakama, Vocals. Portia is from Cape Town, South Africa. She started singing in church and at home with her sisters. Portia has performed numerous artists including New York artists Ron Kunene and Themba.