Hugh Masekela Was One Of Africa's Greatest Musicians - Ken Addy

25 January, 2018, 01:29 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • Hugh Masekela performs during the 2006 New Orleans

Singer and songwriter Sonti Mndebele remembered the first time she met Bra Hugh.

Throughout his life, Masekela was involved in a number of initiatives and projects to raise funds and awareness for the people of South Africa, and he later founded the Musicians and Artists' Assistance Program of South Africa to provide help for drug addicts and alcoholics. He scored an worldwide number one hit in 1968 with "Grazing In The Grass". This son of Africa has spawned a generation of knowledge producers and musicians who have contributed to the teaching and practical knowledge of jazz and popular music in South Africa and globally.

Last year, the University awarded him its highest honour, Doctor of Music (honoris causa), in recognition of Masekela's contribution to the music industry.

"His music was not only a powerful tool to heighten the levels of political consciousness among the oppressed black majority, but served as a instrument to mobilize the masses ... to agitate for an alternative South Africa", Mkhize said.

Of the tour opener in Rotterdam, Rolling Stone magazine reported: "Special guest star Hugh Masekela, the exiled South African trumpeter, called for the release of imprisoned African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela in his jazz-funk anthem, Bring Him Back Home, while singer Miriam Makeba, a fellow exile, lamented the suffering and repression in her homeland with a soulful torching of Masekela's Soweto Blues". Restrictions imposed by the South African government on jazz, which authorities regarded as a way to express resistance, prompted Masekelas exile – first to London, then in NY – and he finally returned to his home country in the early 1990s after the end of apartheid. He found escape from the racial chaos in South Africa in his days with music.

He was part of the jazz cool set that included Miles Davis, Harry Belafonte, Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Herb Alpert, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder. With other schoolmates, Masekela joined the newly formed Huddleston Jazz Band, South Africa's first youth orchestra.

The 1968 Grammy Award winner's family, in a statement, said he "passed away peacefully" in Johannesburg "after a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer".

In this way, his remarkable body of work - one that spans 44 albums and countless collaborations and live performances - is folk music of the kind produced by the likes of Public Enemy, Cab Calloway, Van Morrison or Dizzy Gillespie.

"On behalf of the Anglican Church, and on my own behalf, I extend our condolences to Hugh Masekela's nearest and dearest family and friends", Archbishop Thabo said.


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