Lebo M

About Lebo M

If you don’t know the name Lebo M, you probably know his voice. As the sun rises over the savannah in the opening sequence of the 1994 Disney film The Lion King, it’s this South African singer and composer who rouses the animal kingdom from its slumber with a strident, tongue-clicking Zulu chant. This iconic intro (from the song “Circle of Life”) marked the culmination of an epic journey for an artist born under apartheid in July 1964. Lebo M—short for Lebohang Morake—got into music as a child and was just 13 when he became a staple at local haunts like Soweto’s famed Club Pelican. A few years later, he was stranded in the neighboring country of Lesotho, playing for tips at five-star hotels, when the U.S. ambassador helped Morake secure a spot at a performing-arts high school in Washington, DC. Hustling his way to Hollywood, he lived on the streets for two years before his big break, working alongside Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack to 1992’s The Power of One and again with The Lion King. Since then, Morake has continued to write music for film and stage, exuding vibrancy and determination with layered choral arrangements and forceful vocal performances.

Soweto, South Africa
May 20, 1964

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