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The story of Bro Hugh Masekela (1939-2018) told in a Jazz way

24 Jan 2018 at 07:01hrs | Views
Photo: Vusa Mkhaya (L) and Hugh Masekela (L)
Hugh Masekela, an award-winning songwriter, singer and accomplished musician, took his last breath yesterday leaving a very wide gap in the musical landscape internationally . Born in Witbank, Mpumalanga Province 78 years ago, Bro Hugh , as he would prefer to be called, began his singing and playing a Piano as a child.

In 1954 , the Archbishop Trevor Huddleston gave him a trumpet which he quickly mastered and is today renowned for . Later in his life he teamed up with the likes of Jonas Gwangwa and other internationally celebrated South African composers and songwriters namely: Miriam Makeba , Abdullah Ibrahim , Kippie Moeketsi , Paul Simons and Fela Kuti .

Back in the 1960s, Masekela left South Africa and took up a scholarship at London's Guildhall school of Music and also studied at the Manhattan School of Music. He spent more than 30 years in exile but still continued to draw inspiration through music from home grown tunes.

While in exile he used his music as a sharp tool against black suppression and marginalization . His biggest highlight was his album "Glazing in the Grass " which sold more than 4 million copies . It was in exile where his career as a musician and songwriter was to hit its pinnacle . He made it his life's mission to take Africa to the World . He returned to South Africa after the end of apartheid in the 1990s. He has collaborated with other South African Afropop bands Mafikizolo and Bongo Maffin .

Among his legacy projects is a drug rehabilitation centre in Johannesburg . He will always be remembered as a role model for many musicians the world over . In a career spanning over 5 decades he has released not less than 25 albums.

The baobab tree has fallen , the icon of Jazz music has left the centre stage.  May his soul rest in peace .


Source - Matthew Dube (Jazz enthusiast)
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