Accountant, musician, producer, and businessman Hilton Rosenthal grew up in typical white, middle-class surroundings of a segregated South Africa. He liked the Beatles and the Rolling Stones but had never listened to black South African music. An accountant with his father's firm, he played in a band but had no plans to make a career in music.
After college though, Rosenthal went to work for the Gramophone Record Co., the South African affiliate of CBS Records. About a year later he was put in charge of the black music division (in those days, music was strictly segregated by race).
Despite this, in 1978 he persuaded CBS International to give him a small budget for musical experiments, and he began working with two gentlemen who were performing traditional acoustic Zulu music together. He encouraged them to work with a band (that eventually became Juluka), add some electronics and English, and combine Zulu music with Western pop -- although the music was initially considered "too black for whites and too white for blacks". Subsequently, he produced every Juluka and Savuka album. Mr. Rosenthal then went on to form (and eventually sell to EMI before his 1985 move to the USA) MINC, one of the country's largest independent record companies.
In 1990 he formed the Los Angeles-based Rhythm Safari Records before finally settling near Sydney, Australia, re-launching the label there and, in 2009, following it up with a stage show of the same name.