Hugh Masekela, who has died aged 78, was one of the world’s finest and most distinctive horn players, whose performing on trumpet and flugelhorn mixed jazz with South African styles and music from across the African continent and diaspora.
THANK YOU HUGH MASEKELA! celebrates the music and life of this truly inspiring musician and human being.
Yannick Koffi, Michael Coggins, Ray Cassar, Nic Cecire, James Ryan, Adm Ventoura and Aykho Akriff!
Tuesday April 10th at Lazybones Lounge
Children 15 and under FREE!
Exiled from his country for 30 years, Hugh Masekela was also a powerful singer and songwriter and an angry political voice, using his music and live performances to attack the apartheid regime that had banished him from his homeland.
Even when he had returned to the country of his birth under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, after having lived and worked in the US and in Botswana, Masekela continued to comment fearlessly on political events in South Africa and around the world, enjoying his status as an international celebrity, playing for presidents and royalty and concert audiences, and often collaborating with other musical greats.
In 1987 he and Makeba joined Paul Simon on the world tour promoting Simon’s massively successful album Graceland, which had been partly recorded with black musicians in South Africa, despite a UN cultural boycott.Masekela said he was backing Simon because Graceland was giving black South Africans global exposure. Other musicians disagreed, and when the Graceland tour reached London, protesters outside the Royal Albert Hall included Jerry Dammers and Billy Bragg. Inside, Masekela performed his rousing anti-apartheid anthem Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) and his song about migrant workers, Stimela.
The following year he and Makeba again shared a stage in London – this time at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute at Wembley Stadium, an event that honoured the jailed South African leader and was broadcast to 67 countries. Masekela and Makeba performed Soweto Blues, which mourned the deaths of the many children killed by police during the 1976 Soweto uprising.
Hugh Masekela, left, and the Nigerian singer Femi Kuti performing during the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Hugh Masekela, and Nigerian singer Femi Kuti performing at the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Photograph: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images
Mandela was released in 1990, and with the ending of apartheid Masekela was able to return to South Africa after an absence of 30 years. Rather than retire, he threw himself into a series of new recordings and projects, and began to achieve the deserved status of an international celebrity. In 1996 he played for President Mandela and the Queen during Mandela’s state visit to Britain. He responded by dancing in the royal box.
In 2010 he was the opening performer in the globally transmitted concert that kicked off the football World Cup finals in South Africa, and in 2012 he was reunited with Simon for a world tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Graceland project. This time there were no protests. Later that year he co-created the Songs of Migration jazz musical, which explored the music of South Africa, Nigeria and the American South and was staged around the world.
Having issued more than 40 albums across his career, his final one was No Borders, in 2016. Among his many awards was South Africa’s highest, the Order of Ikhamanga.In 1987 he and Makeba joined Paul Simon on the world tour promoting Simon’s massively successful album Graceland, which had been partly recorded with black musicians in South Africa, despite a UN cultural boycott.