Simon 'Mahlathini' Nkabinde (1938 - July 27, 1999) was a South African mbaqanga singer. Known as the "Lion of Soweto" Nkabinde was the acknowledged originator of the deep-voiced, basso-profundo "groaning" style and was perhaps the most distinguished mgqashiyo (the indestructible beat, a vocal mbaqanga style) male singer. Nkabinde was also a very active live performer in South Africa, recording and performing with the Mahotella Queens and the Makgona Tsohle Band from 1964 to 1971. After several minor 1970s and early '80s comebacks with both the Queens and Makgona Tsohle, Nkabinde was propelled into international stardom during the wake of Paul Simon's Graceland (1987) album in the supergroup Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens.
Nkabinde was born in Alexandra township, in South Africa, in 1938. As a young boy, Nkabinde began leading isicathamiya and mbube choirs at traditional Zulu wedding ceremonies. By the time he was a teenager, Nkabinde's voice was much admired: however, during the early 1950s, his voice became strained and was reduced to a growl. Initially, Nkabinde's rural parents thought he had been "witched", and took him to a sangoma. When the healer provided the simple explanation that Nkabinde was only "growing up", Nkabinde's parents put their minds at rest. Nkabinde himself joined the kwela group Alexandra Black Mambazo (from which the Ladysmith choir would later take its name), also featuring his older brother Zeph. In the mid 1950s, Nkabinde joined EMI and began recording with female artists such as the Dark City Sisters and the Flying Jazz Queens. His growling vocal became known as "groaning", and was to inspire a whole generation of groaners (none of whom outlasted Nkabinde).