Hugh Masekela, Considered the Father of South African Jazz, Dies at 78
Jan 25 2018
He also worked with the exiled South African saxophonist Dudu Pukwana and began fronting the Ghanaian group Hedzoleh Soundz.
Masekela will be missed, not only in South Africa but around the world. Masekela's catchy upbeat 1987 song "Bring Him Back Home" calling for Nelson Mandela's release from prison became an worldwide anthem for the anti-apartheid movement.
Masekela's most famous song is "Soweto Blues", a protest song written about the Soweto uprising in June 1976.
The following year, he scored a number one hit with "Grazing in the Grass", performed here much later at the 2010 World Cup. He was inspired to learn the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in the 1950 film Young Man with a Horn.
In Masekela's case, however, the combination of a searing curiosity and appetite for the world around him (which sometimes got him into deep trouble), an abiding musical gift, an unabashed and enduring love of the township life that shaped him, and a life in exile meant that his particular folk music drew the widest audience possible. With the help of Trevor Huddleston and other friends, he was admitted into London's Guildhall School of Music and later moved to the United States where he studied classical trumpet at the Manhattan School of Music in NY. "Hugh Masekela's legacy is that of an inter-generational institution, someone who across generation after generation articulated our people's experiences and reflected our evolving history through music".
- Hugh Masekela (@hughmasekela) January 23, 2018A teenage Hugh Masekela jumping for joy in Sophiatown with the trumpet he received from Louis Armstrong. At the time, he was attending St. Peter's, an Anglican prep school in the suburbs of Johannesburg, where his musical precociousness was matched only by his reputation for unruliness. At the age of 14, he was given his first trumpet by the respected anti-apartheid campaigner Father Trevor Huddleston.
He was first and foremost a master musician.
He married Makeba the following year. "We just decided, like he likes to say, 'Let's call it a draw.' " The couple continued performing together until her death in 2008.
In 1990, Hugh Masekela finally returned home to South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela and the overthrow of the apartheid regime. He was the father of American television host Sal Masekela.
"Heritage restoration is my biggest obsession", he told the San Francisco Classical Voice in 2011.
Condolences from fans poured out Tuesday on social media paying tribute to the influential musician's career.