[RIP] Hugh Masekela has died

South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela has died, at age 78.

Masekela lost his fight with prostate tumor, for which he had been dealting with since 2008.

In October, he scratched off a planned execution at the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival in Rockville, Soweto to devote himself to fighting the infection and approached all men to go for general tumor check up.

Masekela was conceived on 4 April1939 in Witbank. As a child, he started playing the piano, however a motion picture about jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, Young Man with a Horn, roused him to move his melodic loyalties.

Hostile to politically-sanctioned racial segregation extremist Father Trevor Huddleston helped Masekela to gain a trumpet and guaranteed he got educational cost, bringing about his quickly joining South Africa’s first youth ensemble, the Huddleston Jazz Band.

In the late 50s, Masekela got together with Dollar Brand (later known as Abdullah Ibrahim), Kippie Moeketsi, Jonas Gwangwa, Johnny Gertze and on the other hand Early Mabuza or Makaya Ntshoko on drums, to shape The Jazz Epistles, who frequently performed at the Odin Theater in Sophiatown.

In 1959, Masekela joined the cast of Todd Matshikiza’s “all-African jazz musical show” King Kong. The melodic, which likewise helped dispatch the vocation of Miriam Makeba, got authorization to perform in London in 1961.

Because of the Sharpeville massacre and with jazz being viewed as an outflow of protection, exhibitions and communicates in South Africa were seriously confined. Masekela accepted the open door, alongside numerous different individuals from the cast, to stay in England, adequately going into oust, and selected at the London Guildhall School of Music, later moving to the Manhattan School of Music in New York.

Here he got to know performer and political lobbyist Harry Belafonte, and his music progressively started mirroring the unforgiving substances of constraint and separation back home.

Masekela wedded Miriam Makeba in 1964, however the couple separated in 1966.

Masekela had accomplishment in the United States with a pop-jazz tune, “Up, Up and Away”, in 1967.

He performed at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, close by Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, before discharging Grazing in the Grass in 1968, which achieved number one on the pop and R&B diagrams.

In 1970, he visited Guinea with Miriam Makeba and met Nigerian AfroBeat performer Fela Kuti and the Ghanian band Hedzoleh Soundz.

This prompted his leap forward collection “Presenting Hedzoleh Soundz”, a standout amongst the most exceedingly respected Afro-jazz collections of the decade.

In 1974, Masekela released his album I Am Not Afraid, which included Stimela (Coal Train), a song that became synonymous with his performances for decades to come.

Masekela performed on recordings by the Byrds, made an album in 1978 with trumpeter and bandleader Herb Alpert, and later collaborated with Paul Simon.

WATCH: Hugh Masekela on weaves, identity and heritage

In 1982, Masekela performed at the Culture and Resistance Conference in Botswana, in large part organised by the ANC cultural desk in exile and drawing hundreds of anti-apartheid activists together.

In 1985, he founded the Botswana International School of Music (BISM), focusing his music more on mbaqanga sounds.

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

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’.”

“Soweto Blues” was written by Masekela in response to the Soweto riots of 1976 and the carnage that followed.

Masekela later defended Simon after the tour was criticised as being in violation of the ANC’s cultural boycott.

His 1987 hit “Bring Him Back Home” subsequently became the theme tune for Nelson Mandela’s world tour after his release from prison.

Masekela’s output in Botswana increasingly shifted to jazz-funk and included “Techno-Bush”.

In the early 1990s, Masekela opened a short-lived jazz club in the building previously housing the Picadilly Cinema in the bohemian Rockey Street in Yeoville, Johannesburg.

In 2004, his autobiography, Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela was released, highlighting his struggle over decades with alcoholism.

Masekela produced music for the Mbongeni Ngema musical Sarafina and was also featured in Lee Hirsch’s 2003 documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony.

He continued to perform regularly, hosting “Hugh Masekela & Friends Live in Concert” at Montecasino, Johannesburg in 2010, two concerts that in many ways served as an epitaph to his career.

In June 2016, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the June 16 youth uprising, he reunited with fellow Jazz Epistles Abdullah Ibrahim and Jonas Gwangwa to perform together for the first time in 60 years, at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg.

Masekela received numerous awards throughout his life, among them the Order of Ikhamanga – South African National Orders Ceremony (2010); an honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of York (2014); a Doctor of Music (honoris causa) from Rhodes University (2015); and the African Music Legend Award – Ghana Music Awards (2007).

Masekela is survived by his wife, Elinam Cofie, whom he married in 1999 and for whom he penned the song “Ghana”, his daughter, Pula Twala, and his son, Selema “Sal” Masekela, from his relationship with Haitian Jessie Marie Lapierre.

Selected Discography:

The Emancipation of Hugh Masekela – 1966

Hugh Masekela & The Union of South Africa – 1971

Home Is Where the Music Is (aka The African Connection) – 1972

Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz – 1973

The Boy’s Doin’ It – 1975

Colonial Man – 1976

You Told Your Mama Not to Worry – 1977

Herb Alpert / Hugh Masekela -1978

Home – 1982

Techno-Bush – 1984

Waiting for the Rain – 1985

Beatin’ Aroun de Bush – 1992

Stimela – 1994

Additional information – South African History Archive (SAHA)

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