I Need Your Love – Letta Mbulu
Letta Mbulu rose to fame as part of the cast of the musical ‘King Kong’ which toured the world. When she left South Africa in 1965 to go into exile in the US, she teamed up with others from that musical, Hugh Masakela, Miriam Makeba and Jonas Gwanga. She also met Caiphus Semenya whom she married.
Two of these contacts were involved in ‘I Need Your Love’. Semenya co-wrote it with someone called Drake (first name not known and almost certainly not the rapper who goes by that name) and Masakela directed (according to the label of the old 45 – perhaps that was the term for produced back then) along with Stewart Levine. The song showcases the wonderful voice Letta possessed. It is a sort of Diana Ross meets Margaret Singana in Dionne Warwick’s undertstated lounge. The music is somewhat akin to the “gospel” music of the 70’s that pop groups seemed to do and there is an added warmth from some brass (presumable Masakela). It’s a good sing-along song with a rousing chorus.
Despite being in exile, Letta managed to chart on the Springbok Top 20, something that not many black South African artists managed. ‘I Need Your Love’ entered the charts on 24 November 1972, spent 17 weeks on them and peaked at 3. Quite a remarkable feat for someone whom the local government would not have been on the best terms with. And what’s more, she charted again the following year with ‘I’ll Never be The Same Again’.
Where to find it:
Singles bins, or if you can find it her vinyl album entitled ‘Letta’