The Lion King Composer Lebo M Loses 10-Year Legal Fight To Ex-Wife, US Court Slaps Him With Hefty Legal Bill

South African composer Lebo “Lebo M” Morake, who lost a 10-year legal battle to his ex-wife for the royalties of The Lion King, has been ordered to pay her legal costs by a US court.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered Lebo M to pay his ex-wife, Nandi Ndlovu-GoodJohn’s legal fees. These amount to almost R500 000.

The Sunday World reports Ndlovu-GoodJohn incurred the legal fees during a protracted 10-year fight over royalties to the 1994 smash hit movie, The Lion King.  

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The celebrated producer lost that battle last year and was ordered to pay his ex-wife 40% of the monthly gross earnings from his work.


Lebo M [Picture Credit: Instagram/Lebo M]

He was also ordered to pay a monthly amount of $10 000 for Ndlovu-GoodJohn’s legal fees.

However, the Lion King producer was aggrieved by this decision. Instead of paying, he appealed against the order at the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Lebo M found no joy at the higher court, however, when the matter was heard. The Supreme Court threw out his appeal because it was frivolous.  

The US court upheld the decision that the Lion King composer should pay 40 percent of the total earnings of  The Lion King and the accumulated arrears in $6 000 [R89 000] monthly instalments. 

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The court also ordered Lebo M to pay an additional $26,678.75 in legal fees for defending a frivolous lawsuit.

When reached for comment, Lebo M said he was unaware of the judgement of the US Court.

His ex-wife, on the other hand, was ecstatic about the favourable judgement. She told the publication, 


“To be honest, I have nothing to say about the matter. However, I want to inspire whoever is about to give up not to lose hope,” she said.


Morake wrote and sang the opening Zulu chant at the beginning of Disney’s The Lion King, for which acclaimed film score producer Hans Zimmer sought him. He also contributed to the sequel to the film’s soundtrack, Rhythm of the Pride Lands, and the film’s direct-to-video sequel, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride. 

Together with Hans Zimmer, he won a Grammy Award for the Lion King’s original soundtrack.

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