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Masekela, Hugh

Hugh Masekela

Musician, composer, singer

Studied Music Abroad

Collaborated With Playwright Ngema

Sarafina! an International Hit

Selected discography

Sources

South African trumpeter, fleugelhornist, composer, and singer Hugh Masekela is an acknowledged master of African music. He is also one of his countrys most recognizable freedom fighters in the battle against the racist rule of apartheid. Masekela was born on April 4,1939, in Witbank, a coal mining town near Johannesburg, South Africa. Although his father was a health inspector and acclaimed sculptor, the Masekela home was a modest one, and young Hugh was raised by his grandmother. By age six Masekela was singing the songs of the street and at age nine began attending missionary schools, where he learned to play the piano.

Masekela first became interested in playing the trumpet after seeing the 1949 film Young Man With a Horn, the story of Bix Beiderbecke. Initially Masekelas greatest influences were the performers of American swing. Later he became interested in be-bop jazz and the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, whom Masekela credits with the development of his talent. As a teenager Masekela began playing trumpet with South African dance bands, some of which toured major African cities. In 1958 he joined Alfred Herberts African Jazz Revue and the following year formed his own band, the Jazz Epistles, with pianist Dollar Brand, drummer Makaya Ntshoko, trombonist Jonas Gwanga, and alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi.

Studied Music Abroad

As a black man, South African music schools were closed to Masekela; he was forced to go abroad to continue his musical training. He studied at Londons Guildhall School of Music and received a scholarship from American calypso star and human rights activist Harry Belafonte to the Manhattan School of Music, in New York City, which he attended from 1960 to 1964. Staying on the the U.S., Masekela also worked with Belafontes Clara Music and arranged the music on several albums for his then-wife, African folksinger Miriam Makeba, from whom he was divorced in 1966.

In 1964 Masekela teamed with fellow student Stewart Levine to found Chisa Records. The Emancipation of Hugh Masekela was the first of 11 albums the duo produced. In 1968 Masekela became one of the first African artists to pierce Americas pop music world when his song Grazing in the Grass topped Billboards singles chart for two weeks. Written in the style of mbaqanga a combination of traditional Zulu music and black American popGrazing in the Grass clearly reflected Masekelas African heritage. Masekela toured parts of Africa in 1973, playing with a variety of African musicians. In Ghana he met Nigerian Afrobeat

For the Record

Born Hugh Ramopolo Masekela, April 4, 1931, in Witbank, South Africa; father was a health inspector and sculptor; married Miriam Makeba (a singer; divorced, 1966). Education: Attended Guildhall School of Music, London, England; attended the Manhattan School of Music, New York City, 1960-64.

Began playing trumpet with South African dance bands while a teenager; member of Alfred Herberts African Jazz Revue, 1958-59; formed band the Jazz Epistles, 1959; studied music in England and the U.S., 1960-64; co-founder of Chisa Records, 1965; leader of various musical groups, 1965; joined the Kalahari Band; founded the Botswana International School of Music, 1986; co-wrote musical Sarafina!; produced songs for group Hedzoleh Sounds, 1991.

Featured in Jacques Holenders video, Musicians in Exile, Rhapsody Films.

purveyor and protest singer Fela and the Ghanian group Hedzoleh Soundz. He became the groups leader and recorded Masekela: Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz with them in 1973. The following year Masekela and Hedzoleh Soundz toured the United States.

Having spent the better part of the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S., Masekela moved back to Africa in 1980, eventually settling in Botswana, where he lived for four and a half yearsthough he would later return to the U.S. He arranged for a mobile recording studio to be shipped from California, and working with Jive Afrika Records, released the album Technobush. The single Dont Go Lose It Baby, topped dance charts in the U.S. In 1986 Masekela founded the Botswana International School of Music, a nonprofit institute dedicated to training African musicians. The following year he signed on a guest star with American singer-songwriter Paul Simons Graceland tour, which was a popular and critical success, though accompanied by criticism from some who claimed that Simon had violated a United Nations cultural boycott of South Africa when he recorded parts of the album Graceland in Johannesburg. Masekela, however, had not performed on the record.

Collaborated With Playwright Ngema

Earlier, in 1983, Masekela had met South African playwright Mbongemi Ngema, author of several critically acclaimed plays. One of them is Woza Albert, in which Ngema used Masekelas song Coal Train. After seeing a performance of the play, Masekela went backstage to meet Ngema. They became friends and decided to collaborate on a piece of theater. Winnie Mandela, wife of then-imprisoned South African political activist Nelson Mandela, suggested that they portray the children of South Africa and their resistance to bantu education, which prepares them to serve the white minority in their country.

Ngema wrote the book and some of the music for what was to become Sarafina!, titled for the main character, who bears a womans name common in the townships around Johannesburg. He asked Masekela to compose additional music. Loosely structured, the play is more like a series of choral set pieces than musical theater, but the songs and dances are all tied together thematically by the famed Soweto uprising; the action takes place in the schoolyard of the Morris Issacson High School, the site of the 1976 uprising in which nearly 600 students were killed and many more shot by police for protesting the teaching of Afrikaansconsidered by them the language of white colonialist oppressioninstead of English. In Sarafina!, the students at the school, inspired by their student leader, Sarafina, produce a play that depicts the release of the imprisoned Mandela.

Ngema auditioned and rehearsed about 20 young South Africans from the townships for roles in Sarafina! The members of the ten-piece band that provided the productions energetic mbquanga music are dressed as soldiers; they play on a set made up of a chain link fence and a tank. At the beginning of the piece, the performers are dressed in the trouser-and-blouse uniforms of the school, but by the end, they appear in tribal costumes, dancing, singing about their heritage, and protesting their oppression.

Sarafina! an International Hit

At its 1987 premier in South Africa Sarafina! was an immediate hit. It went from Johannesburg to New York Citys Lincoln Center later that year, and in January 1988 moved to Broadway, where, an instant success, it played for two years to sell-out crowds before beginning a national tour. A second troupe was formed to perform the Tony Award-nominated musical in Europe. I think its one of the most rewarding projects Ive done, Masekela told Detroit News and Free Press contributor Cassandra Spratling.

When Masekela left South Africa to study music, he began what was to become a roughly three-decade self-imposed exile in protest of apartheid. Despite his physical separation, however, he never lost his emotional and cultural ties to his country, or the desire to see his homeland freed from racial inequality. Im not the kind of musician you hear saying my music, Masekela told the Washington Posts Donna Britt. I dont think I have music. I think everybody gets music from the community they come from. And every note that I play, every song that Ive ever worked on is really from the people. And their freedom will usher in a place where I can say, Now Im an artist.

In late 1990 Masekela returned to a slowly changing South Africa to visit his mothers grave for the first time. He also established a residence to use during part of the year, thus effectively ending his exile. Masekela spoke hopefully in the Boston Herald of his plan to spend time in his country. I will go back a lot now I think. There is no doubt in our minds that we will be free one day soon and that South Africa will become a normal society. Theres a lot of work to be done with the reconstruction that will be coming up. Well all have to be a part of it.

Selected discography

Trumpet Africaine, Mercury Records, 1960.

Home Is Where the Music Is, Chisa Records, 1972.

Masekela: Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz, 1973.

I Am Not Afraid, Chisa Records, 1974.

(With Herb Alpert) Main Event, A&M, 1978.

Technobush (includes Dont Go Lose It Baby), Jive Afrika Records, 1984.

Waiting for the Rain, Jive Afrika Records, 1985.

Uptownship, Novus/RCA, 1990.

The Emancipation of Hugh Masekela, Chisa Records.

Sources

Africa Report, July/August 1987.

American Visions, April 1990.

Boston Globe, October 26, 1990.

Boston Herald, March 6, 1988; October 26, 1990.

Chicago Sun Times, August 5, 1990.

Detroit News and Free Press, June 3, 1990.

Down Beat, March 1992.

Jet, August 5, 1991.

Record (Hackensack, NJ), October 26, 1987.

Hartford Courant (CT), April 24, 1988; March 21, 1990.

Times (Madison, Wl), April 4, 1989.

Milwaukee Journal, July 29, 1990.

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), October 3, 1989; January 24, 1988.

New York Post, October 24, 1987; October 26, 1987.

New York Tribune, February 12, 1988.

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 22, 1987.

Pittsburgh Press, June 1, 1989.

Providence Journal (RI), July 20, 1990.

Rolling Stone, June 10, 1982; July 2, 1987.

San Francisco Examiner, June 14, 1990.

Stereo Review, June 1990.

Sunday Republican (Springfield, MA), January 24, 1988.

Variety, April 1990.

Washington Post, April 27, 1990.

Jeanne M. Lesinski

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"Masekela, Hugh." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Masekela, Hugh." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/masekela-hugh

"Masekela, Hugh." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/masekela-hugh

Masekela, Hugh 1939—

Hugh Masekela 1939

Composer, musician

At a Glance

Collaborated With Mbongemi Ngema

Musical an International Hit

Selected discography

Sources

South African trumpeter, fleugelhornist, composer, and singer Hugh Ramopolo Masekela is an acknowledged master of African jazz. He is also one of his countrys most recognizable freedom fighters in the battle against apartheid. Masekela was born on April 4, 1939 in Witbank, a coal-mining town near Johannesburg, South Africa. Although his father was a health inspector and famous sculptor, the home was a modest one, and the young boy was raised by his grandmother. At age six Hugh was singing the songs of the street and from age nine attended missionary schools, where he learned to play the piano.

He first became interested in playing the trumpet after seeing the movie Young Man with a Horn (1949), the story of Bix Beiderbecke. Initially his greatest influences were the performers of American swing. Later he became interested in be-bop jazz and the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, who Masekela credits with the development of his talent.

As a teenager Masekela began playing trumpet with South African dance bands and toured major African cities. In 1958 he joined Alfred Herberts African Jazz Revue and the following year he formed his own bandthe Jazz Epistles, with Dollar Brand (pianist), Makaya Ntshoko (drummer), Jonas Gwanga (trombonist), and Kippie Moeketsi (alto saxophonist).

Because South African music schools were not open to him, Masekela went abroad to continue his musical training. He studied at Londons Guildhall School of Music and received a scholarship from Harry Belafonte to the Manhattan School of Music, in New York City, which he attended from 1960 to 1964. He also worked with Belafontes Clara Music and arranged several albums for his then-wife, African folk singer Miriam Makeba, from whom he was divorced in 1966.

In 1964 he formed another group and the following year he teamed up with fellow student Stewart Levine to found Chisa Records. The Emancipation of Hugh Masekela was the first of the eleven albums the team produced. In 1968 Masekela became one of the first African artists to pierce Americas pop music world when his song Grazing in the Grass topped Billboards singles chart for two weeks. Written in mbaqanga, a recombination of traditional Zulu music and black American

At a Glance

Born April 4, 1931, in Witbank, South Africa; father was a health inspector and a sculptor; divorced Miriam Makeba (a folk singer), 1966. Education: Attended missionary schools; studied music at Guildhall School of music, London, England; attended the Manhattan School of Music, New York City, 1960-64.

Began playing trumpet with South African dance bands while a teenager; member of Alfred Herberts African jazz Revue, 1958-59; formed own band, the Jazz Epistles, 1959; studied music in England, and in the United States, 1960-64; co-founder of Chisa Records, 1965; leader of and member of numerous musical groups, 1965; left United States for Botswana, 1982, joined the Kalahari Band; founded the Botswana International School of Music, 1986; co-wrote (with Mbongemi Ngema) musical play Sarafina!; returned to South Africa, 1990.

pop, Grazing in the Grass reflects Masekelas African heritage.

Masekela toured parts of Africa in 1973, performing with African musicians. In Ghana he met Nigerian jazzman Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the Ghanian group Hedzoleh Soundz. He became the groups leader and made recordings with it, including Masekela: Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz. In 1974 the group toured the United States.

Masekela moved back to Africa in 1980, settling in Botswana, where he lived for four and a half years. He had a mobile recording studio shipped from California, and working with Jive Afrika Records, he released an album, Technobush. The lead song, Dont Go Lose It Baby, topped the dance charts in the United States. In 1986 Masekela founded the Botswana International School of Music, a nonprofit institute to train African musicians. The following year he signed on as a guest star for Paul Simons Graceland tour, which was a popular and critical success, though it garnered stiff criticism from those who claimed that Simon had violated a United Nations cultural boycott of South Africa when he recorded parts of the album Graceland in Johannesburg. Masekela does not appear on the record.

Collaborated With Mbongemi Ngema

In 1983 Masekela met South African playwright Mbongemi Ngema, who had written several critically acclaimed plays. One of them was Woza Albert in which Ngema used Masekelas song Coal Train. After seeing a performance of this play, Masekela went backstage to meet Ngema. They became quick friends and decided to collaborate on a play. Winnie Mandela, wife of then-imprisoned South African political activist Nelson Mandela, suggested that they portray the children of South Africa and their resistance to the bantu education, a lesson that prepared them to serve the white minority in their country.

Ngema wrote the book and some of the music for what was to become Sarafina!, titled for the main character, a womans name common in the townships around Johannesburg, and asked Masekela to compose additional music. Rather loosely structured, the play is more like a series of choral set pieces than musical theater but the songs and dances are all tied together thematically by the Soweto uprising. The action takes place in schoolyard of the Morris Issacson High School, the site of the 1976 Soweto uprising, during which nearly 600 students were killed and many more shot by police for protesting the teaching of Afrikkansconsidered by them the language of oppressioninstead of English. In Sarafina!, inspired by their student leader, the young Sarafina, the students at the school put on a play that depicts the release of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela.

Ngema auditioned and trained about twenty young South Africans from the townships for roles in Sarafina! The members of the ten-piece band that provides the energetic mbquanga music are dressed as soldiers in a set that is made up of a chain link fence and a silver tank. At the beginning of the piece, the performers are dressed in the trouser and blouse uniforms of the school, but by the end they are in tribal costumes, dancing and singing their heritage and protesting their oppression.

Musical an International Hit

At its 1987 premier in South Africa, Sarafina! was an immediate hit. It went from Johannesburg to the Lincoln Center theater later that year, and in January 1988 it moved to Broadway, where, an instant success, it played for two years to sell-out crowds before beginning a national tour. A second troupe was formed to perform the Tony Award-nominated musical in Europe. I think its one of the most rewarding projects Ive done,Masekela told Detroit News and Free Press writer Cassandra Spratling.

When Masekela left South Africa to study music, he began what was to become a thirty-year self-imposed exile in protest of apartheid. Despite his physical separation, he never lost his emotional and cultural ties, or the desire to see his homeland freed from racial inequality. Im not the kind of musician you hear saying my music, Masekela told Donna Britt of the Washington Post. I dont think I have music. I think everybody gets music from the community they come from. And every note that I play, every song that Ive ever worked on is really from the people. And their freedom will usher in a place where I can say, Now Im an artist.

In late 1990 Masekela returned to South Africa to visit his mothers grave for the first time. He also set up a residence to use during part of the year, thus ending his exile. Masekela told Boston Herald writer, I will go back a lot now I think. There is no doubt in our minds that we will be free one day soon and that South Africa will become a normal society. Theres a lot of work to be done with the reconstruction that will be coming up. Well all have to be a part of it.

Selected discography

Trumpet Africaine, Mercury Records, 1960.

Home Is Where the Music Is, Chisa Records, 1972.

Masekela: Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz, 1973.

I Am Not Afraid, Chisa Records, 1974.

Main Event (with Herb Alpert), A & M, 1978.

Technobush, Jive Afrika Records, 1984.

Waiting for the Rain, Jive Afrika Records, 1985.

Uptownship, Novus/RCA, 1990.

Sources

Africa Report, July-August 1987.

American Visions, April 1990.

Boston Globe, October 26, 1990.

Boston Herald, March 6, 1988; October 26, 1990.

Chicago Sun Times, August 5, 1990.

Detroit News and Free Press, June 3, 1990.

(Hackensack, New Jersey) Record, October 26, 1987.

Harford Courant, April 24, 1988; March 21, 1990.

(Madison, Wisconsin)Times, April 4, 1989.

Milwaukee Journal, July 29, 1990.

(Newark, New Jersey) Star-Ledger, October 3, 1989; January 24, 1988.

New York Post, October 24, 1987; October 26, 1987.

New York Tribune, February 12, 1988.

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 22, 1987.

Pittsburgh Press, June 1, 1989.

Providence Journal, July 20, 1990.

Rolling Stone, June 10, 1982; July 2, 1987.

San Francisco Examiner, June 14, 1990.

(Springfield, Massachusetts) Sunday Republican, January 24, 1988.

Washington (D.C.) Times, April 27, 1990.

Jeanne M. Lesinski

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Masekela, Hugh

Hugh Masekela (măs´əkĕl´ə), 1939–, South African singer, composer, band leader, and trumpet player. After working with several South African jazz bands, he and his then-wife Miriam Makeba fled South Africa in the early 1960s because of apartheid. He subsequently studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. His music gradually began to fuse jazz with the African dance music known as mbaqanga. He became known to the American public with his number one hit single, "Grazing in the Grass" (1968), and was a producer of the 1980s South African–themed Broadway musical Serafina! His albums include Waiting for the Rain (1986), Tomorrow (1987), The Lasting Impressions of Ooga Booga (1996), and Sixty (2000).

See his autobiography, Still Grazing (2004, with D. M. Cheers).

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"Masekela, Hugh." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Masekela, Hugh." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/masekela-hugh

"Masekela, Hugh." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/masekela-hugh