Hugh Masekela, South African Jazz Musician, Dies at 78

25 January, 2018, 02:37 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Hugh Masekela. Credit:Supplied

South African's renowned jazz musician Hugh Masekela passed away on Tuesday from a prostate cancer.

Known as the father of South African jazz, the trumpet master channeled the struggle against apartheid into soulful compositions that championed the experiences of ordinary South Africans.

Later, after writing the seminal anti-apartheid protest anthem, Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela), he would return to NY once again, in the late 1980s, to craft the music for the stage production Sarafina!

Masekela performed with Paul Simon on the 1987 Graceland tour, along with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

"I would like to send my honest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones during this hard time".

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"Rest in power beloved, you are forever in our hearts", the statement said.

Born in the South African town of Witbank in 1939, Masekela was inspired to learn the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in the 1950 film "Young Man with a Horn". He was in exile for 30 years.

In the early 1980s, he moved to Botswana to start a mobile recording studio and school for African musicians.

He immersed himself in the NY jazz scene, watching jazz greats such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He released more than 40 albums, and toured in South Africa and internationally until late past year.

He performed at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, alongside Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, before releasing Grazing in the Grass in 1968, which reached number one on the pop and R&B charts. His career spanned over five decades, in which he released 40 albums and gained global recognition.

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Masekela returned to South Africa in 1990 after Mandela was freed and the ban on the African National Congress party was lifted.

Often called the "Father of South African jazz", Masekela died in Johannesburg after what his family said Tuesday was a "protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer".

A baobab of music, an icon who spoke his mind, at times vigorously, Masekela's contributions to the canon of South African culture and world music far outweigh the 40-odd albums he recorded.

If you're not one of the lucky ones who grew up listening to Masekela, start with "Stimela (Coal Train)" (perhaps his most famous song after the US number-one hit "Grazing In The Grass") and the likes of "Joala", off the criminally underrated "Hugh Masekela Presents The CHISA Years: 1965-1975 (Rare & Unreleased)" to see what I mean. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries.

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