Composer and pianist Ibrahim Khalil Shihab wants you to give him a little love for creating this Cape Town anthem.
Many people don’t know this, but Shihab, 70, from Lansdowne is the real genius behind the hit song, Give A Little Love, made famous by the late Zayn Adam in the 70s.
He dreamed up the tune in his bedroom, to the sound of his sleeping son next to him.
Shihab tells the Daily Voice: “At the time, I had just gotten married [to Zayn’s sister] and we were all living in a house in Retreat. My son was still a newborn so I used to play the piano that was in our room quite softly.”
He recalls: “When I started the first note, it was like it was preconceived, the composition and the lyrics just flowed.”
At the time, Shihab was an integral part of Pacific Express of which Zayn was the frontman.
“I actually wrote the song in a key that was five times higher, because I wrote it for a female singer. She just couldn’t cut it in rehearsals and then Zayn took me to one side and said: ‘Let me sing this song,’” Shihab reveals.
“I know the song belongs to Cape Town now and some people have even argued that Zayn wrote it. I’d like people to acknowledge that I’m the composer,” he says humbly.
Shihab has a stellar record as a composer and pianist and is credited with writing the tracks for Pacific Express’ seminal debut album, Black Fire, as well as their second album On Time, on which Give A Little Love debuted.
“We had lots of fun back then,” Shihab recalls. “Working with guys like Jack Momple, Vick Higgins and a young Jonathan Butler.”
The self-taught pianist has been tickling the ivory since he was 14 years old, and believes he still has one hit left in him.
“Oh yes, I’ll never stop writing and composing music. I just wrote 10 new songs for Richard Caesar for his latest album.”
Music is in Shihab’s blood, the Muslim convert is part of the Schilder family and grew up with his brothers who greatly influenced the local musical landscape.