Originally recorded in 1939 by a guy called Solomon Linda and a group called the Evening Bells in 1939 in South Africa. Solomon was a South African of Zulu origin and worked as a cleaner and record packer for Gallo Records. The song was originally called Mbube (Lion).
according to South African journalist Rian Malan:
"Mbube" wasn't the most remarkable tune, but there was something terribly compelling about the underlying chant, a dense meshing of low male voices above which Solomon yodelled and howled for two exhilarating minutes, occasionally making it up as he went along. The third take was the great one, but it achieved immortality only in its dying seconds, when Solly took a deep breath, opened his mouth and improvised the melody that the world now associates with these words:
|Linda and the "Evening Bells"|
Issued by Gallo as a 78 recording in 1939 and marketed to black audiences, "Mbube" became a hit and Linda a star throughout South Africa. By 1948 the song had sold about 100,000 copies in Africa and among black South African immigrants in Great Britain and had lent its name to a style of African a cappella music that evolved into isicathamiya (also called mbube), popularized by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Black Mambazo of course is the band that Paul Simon collaborated with to make Graceland back in the day and you can hear the Mbube style rear its head in Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes and Homeless.
Here is the clip, go almost to the end of it to get the killer sound byte: