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Biography

Black Coffee and Joe Claussell

Black Coffee was born in Durban in KwaZulu Natal and grew up in the Eastern Cape in Mthatha, before moving back to Durban to study music at Natal Tech where he majored in Jazz. His reason for studying music was because he felt that as a producer, he had to deepen his overall musical knowledge, develop his listening skills and advance his knowledge of music theory. With two friends, Thandukwazi “Demor” Sikhosana and Mnqobi “Shota” Mdabe, Black Coffee worked as backup vocalists for the renowned Madala Kunene. Deciding then to form an urban soul trio “Shana” the three moved to Johannesburg to make their way. Keeping ‘Simply hot and naturally African’ (the meaning of ‘Shana’) together as an ongoing project, the three have also pursued their individual visions, collaborating on the way.

Black Coffee was chosen as one of two South African participants in the Red Bull Music Academy in 2003 jump-starting him into the South African DJ scene – a decision he says he has never looked back.

2005, the same year as the release of Black Coffee’s powerful debut album ‘Black Coffee’ saw the birth and formation of Soulistic Music, Black Coffee’s wholly owned 360° corporate structure, his team’s home base and the jump-off point for himself, and as time has evidenced for many others to.

To many Black Coffee has led the ‘house music’ way…establishing since a global pre-eminence in vocal house music. Reserved, studiously academic, inventive, imaginative, quiet, enigmatic, shy and bold are but of the few ways in which many across the world perceive Black Coffee. No matter how he is seen he remains one of the very few Club DJs in the country who genuinely understands the precise function of a music deejay: he does not simply re-mix songs, he re-interprets their previously unimagined musical possibilities, adapting and arranging as each work advises and quietly creating new works that give life. When he debuted with his interpretation of Hugh Masekela’s rambunctious jazz hit Stimela, Black Coffee simply demonstrated how it was possible to re-work the South African canon music vault into club music, creating works that were acceptable to both the youth and the old a feat not easily achievable.

Highlights during 2011 included a nomination for the 2011 MTV Europe Africa, India and Middle East Category for the “Worldwide Act”, the launch of "Africa Rising" and its first presentation (at which included a 24 piece orchestra along with a band and featured artists performing Black Coffee’s works) at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Joaquin ”Joe” Claussell was born in Brooklyn to a large and diverse Puerto Rican family with deep musical roots. Throughout his life, music was Joe's shelter, family, food, comfort, escape and love. His first exposure to entertaining audiences was in his own neighborhood at block association events, musically led by one of his elder brothers Larry Claussell. Not long after he hit the club and began collecting vinyl at the age of 15 and his diverse taste for music and dance led him from Disco at a club called The Inferno to Punk music’s sanctuary CBGBs, the alternative driven Mudd Club, the more mainstream Underground, and the legendary Paradise Garage.

While living in the East Village in the early 90s, he found and fell in love with a record store called Dance Tracks. He formed a friendship with the owner, which became the foundation of his musical career. Joe became the store’s DJ and called weekly parties that drew a diverse and increasingly devoted crowd of music lovers. All in the name of fun he began producing: and did his first remix “Over” and produced his first track “Awade”, both becoming instant underground classic. Over time he learned the music business and eventually took over the Dance Tracks store.

In 1996 Joe launched his independent eclectic world house label ”Spiritual Life Music” from the back of Dance Tracks, and around the same time over saw the birth of “Ibadan Records“ with friend and executive producer Jerome Sydenham. The labels productions are fluid - with organic African, Brazilian, Latin and Middle Eastern Rhythms crossing over into Disco, Jazz, House, and Electronic music.

Also in 1996, Joe Claussell joined Francois K and Danny Krivit to play for the legendary “Body & Soul“ Sunday afternoon dance party, where music and dance lovers from NYC and around the world come together every week religiously to experience the totally unique musical journey of Classic, World, Soul, Disco, Funk, and House.

For the last decade to present, Joe has been constantly playing music all over the world, however it is also his being in high demand as a producer and remixer that keeps him working.

Joe contemplates humanity and its trends from a distant but touched perspective. He personally strives for spiritual and creative freedom, and encourages loved ones to tap into their own unique resources to build a society where art and individuality is nourished and celebrated. For people who want a deep introspective music journey to the soul - Joe's shows are a rare and coveted opportunity. His ability to connect with people who share his passion for the rhythms of life through a higher universal language, which keeps people intrigued into staying tuned while listening, dancing and evolving to his unique philosophy and deep rhythms.

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