In 1985, economic and consumers boycotts, mass demonstrations and general political turmoil was at its height. South Africa was on the brink of a state of emergency.
Yet one brave radio station, through the power of music, pulled off an historical event which captured the imagination of a troubled nation. This was the Concert in the Park.
702 music radio broadcasting on medium wave, called to action over 100,000 people, from all walks of life, to celebrate South African music and to demonstrate their concern for the country`s hungry people.
So successful was the call that, as the day progressed 702 had to send out appeals to the public to stop coming to Ellis Park, because by late afternoon the stadium was jam packed and crowds were gathering outside. There is no doubt that this was a significant political and and musical milestone in South African history.
The concert was the brainchild of media mogul Issie Kirsh and record executive Hilton Rosenthal. The mission was simple get South Africans together and to give back to the community by raising money for Operation Hunger.
The artist’s that featured represented the cream of South African Music at the time, most of whom went on to become multi platinum sellers and achieve world wide recognition.
There were 22 artists on the bill and these included Juleka, Brenda Fassie,Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Hotline, E’void, Margaret Singana, Petit Cheval, Mara Louw and Steve Kekana amongst others.
In May 1985 an album of the Concert in The Park was released by Tusk music and it has become a highly sought after and collectable item. Sadly it is no longer available.
Recently, after almost 25 years while going through their archives Trilion Video, who shot and edited the concert for television broadcast, unearthed the concert footage and realising the immense value of the material set about thinking what best to do with it.
The concert has now been digitally remastered and packaged as a DVD and CD combo.
There are some classic performances from Juluka, E’void, Brenda and the Big Dudes and a rare performance by Margaret Singana.The Concert in the Park is a collection of some of the best music from South Africa in the 80’s and will be a fine collectors item as well as an entertaining look back at the fashion and excellent music available at the time.
There are interviews with Issie Kirsh the founder of 702. Hilton Rosenthal the organiser of the concert gives an overview of the event. Johhny Clegg gives an insightful look at performing in the 80’s and the struggles endured by the artists.
All in all this is a definitive look at the talent that featured on one of the biggest musical events ever to take place in South Africa.
As this is Talk Radio 702`s 30th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of the Concert it was decided that in the spirit of the original concert a percentage of the royalties from the sale of the DVD will be donated to The African Childrens feeding scheme which was started by Bishop Trevor Huddleston in 1945.