Nico Carstens


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Nicolaas Cornelius Carstens (10 February 1926 – 1 November 2016) more commonly known as Nico Carstens, was a South African musician, accordionist, and songwriter. Carstens’ most famous song “Zambezi” became a world hit and has been recorded by artists such as Eddie Calvert, Acker Bilk, Bert Kaempfert, The Shadows, James Last, Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer, and Johnny Dankworth. In 1982, The Piranhas took it to number 17 in the UK. Other versions of Carstens’ compositions have been recorded by Horst Wende, Henri René, Geoff Love, and bands in Australia, Italy, and Poland.

Carstens wrote and performed music that spanned the various cultures of South Africa. He drew inspiration from various sources, including Cape Malay, Black Township, and indigenous South African sounds, and combined them to form a unique sound and style.

Since forming his own band at age 24, Carstens had composed more than 2000 songs and recorded over 90 albums which have sold over 2 million copies in South Africa. He did performances all over South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Botswana as well as at the Nantes Festival in France and he appeared on Musikantenstadl for ORF in 1997.