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Assupol presents the 4th annual Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival

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The 4th annual Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival returns to its Soweto home at Rockville’s Elkah Stadium on 4 November 2017. This not-to-be-missed festival, presented by Assupol, features a wide range of musical flavours including Riky Rick’s Hip Hop hits and Papa Penny’s Tsonga disco, headlined by Oliver Mtukudzi.

Though he is not performing as he is resting after undergoing cancer treatment, the line-up is curated by Bra Hugh who is passionate about the power and potential of our nation’s cultural diversity. “We are becoming a society that imitates other cultures, yet we have the biggest diversity of heritage in our country. This festival is about celebrating that,” says Masekela, who this year was honoured with a Doctorate in Music by the University of KwaZulu-Natal on his 78th and birthday and was also honoured with another doctorate of music by Wits University.

This eclectic approach will be evident on stage on 4 November when fresh artists on the rise, who released albums this year, will also perform: Afro Folk singer Bongeziwe Mabandla; Indie band Bye Beneco; Soul Reggae funksters Johnny Cradle and Jazzy songbird Zoe Modiga. There will also be a performance by a Traditional Basotho Group and BCUC, a percussion heavy Indigenous Funk crew who have been catching the ears of international and local festival goers of late.

“Don’t miss this joyful family afternoon and early evening get together, Oliver and I together is spectacular, plus you’ll be bowled over by the seasoned artists and new names in the industry. Be there or be square!” Says Bra Hugh.

The Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival is a day of family fun, with entertainment available for all ages.  Tickets are R100 at Computicket, R150 at the gate and R50 for pensioners. Gates open at 11:00 am on the 4th of November.

Bridget Mokwena-Halala, Assupol Life CEO, said: “Music, entertainment and good food are an integral part to this inventive festival and we are at the same time, both honoured and excited to be part of it again. It showcases some of our brilliant local talent which promises an even more memorable experience than the previous year. This event is testament to Assupol’s commitment to the community it serves.”

 

About the event

Event              Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival

Date               Saturday, 4 November 2017

Venue            Soweto Cricket Oval (Elkah Stadium), 107 Lefatola Street, Moroka, Soweto

 

Line-up          

Oliver Mtukudzi

Papa Penny

Riky Rick

Bongeziwe Mabandla

Zoe Modiga

Bye Beneco

BCUC

Johnny Cradle

Basotho Traditional Group

 

Follow the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival on social media

Twitter            @hmhconcert

Facebook       Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES


OLIVER “TUKU” MTUKUDZI

Born 22 September 1952 in Harare, Tuku (as he is affectionately and respectfully known by his many fans), the ‘soul-dripping voice of Zimbabwe’ as he has so aptly been described, has a career that has spanned 40 years, and is only now reaching its peak. An amazing body of work with no less than sixty original album releases (nearly all of them best-sellers)! Also to his credit are several collaborations and compilation releases.

It is his dedication to the live music scene in Zimbabwe – continually playing to enthusiastic audiences in even the remotest parts of the country – and his socio-politically topical messages that have earned him the massive place he holds in people’s hearts today. He is without question, the biggest Zimbabwean artist presently both there and abroad.  In the past years, his popularity has risen exponentially in the Southern African region, indeed the entire continent and the world at large. Together with his long-standing band, The Black Spirits, he regularly ventures across borders into Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. In the past two years, the group has toured the UK, USA, New Zealand, Australia and Europe extensively.

Tuku has, in fact, been so innovative that his music is now widely referred to as ‘Tuku Music’ being quite distinct from any other Zimbabwean styles. This is not to say that there are no recognisable influences in his work – the traditional forms of the mbira, the South African mbaqanga style, and the popular Zimbabwean music style called jiti, all affect it deeply  – but these, like katekwe, the traditional drumming patterns of his clan, the Korekore, are very much absorbed into an art which is now indubitably his own.

 

RIKY RICK

Riky Rick is a rapper, producer/entertainer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His latest album, Family Values, was certified platinum by RISA and was in the Top 20 African albums of 2015. He has won numerous awards for his music, most notably the MTV AFRICA AWARD FOR BEST MUSIC VIDEO, a Loerie Award for his short film, Exodus and two awards at the South African Hip Hop Awards.

Born in 1987, Riky Rick’s music style has been influenced by early Kwaito and Hip Hop. Borrowing from these influences, he has managed to carve a lane for himself as one of South Africa’s most electrifying performers and rap artists that the continent has ever seen. His raw and eclectic style has found the perfect synergy between South African township life and international appeal.

Beyond music, Riky is one of the most loved and respected personal brands, lending his face and creativity to major campaigns for Ben Sherman, Puma, Russian Bear Vodka and Woolworths. He recently won Most Stylish Male in performing Art at the prestigious South African Style Awards held in November 2016.

 

PAPA PENNY

Born in Kulani Village, Giyani, Limpopo Province in the year 1962, Papa Penny, who was too poor to attend school, went to Johannesburg to look for a job. After a period in the mines, his search for a job led him to a recording studio where he was working as a cleaner. At this studio in Johannesburg in 1994, Afro-beat producer Joseph Shirimani was approached by Papa Penny. He just sang a song for Shirimane and that’s when he heard this unusual voice and melodies.

Together, Shirimani and the cleaning man wound up cutting several songs, including ‘Shaka Bundu’. That song, an example of Tsonga (or Shangaan) Afro-disco, updated traditional African music with synthesizers, electric guitars and Disco or House beats. Released in 1994, ‘Shaka Bundu’ went on to sell 250,000 copies in South Africa and made Papa Penny a star.

Now, 23 years later, the song, along with a whole album of Papa Penny music, has also been unleashed in the States – much to the surprise of the man who sang on it. Currently, Papa Penny has a reality show on Mzansi Magic, called Ahee Papa Penny.

 

BONGEZIWE MABANDLA

When Bongeziwe Mabandla surfaced with his debut album in 2012, he was hailed as the new face of Afro-Folk, effortlessly able to entwine Xhosa lyrics with traditional music and folk stylings to create something uniquely captivating.

That the Eastern Cape artist can move into territory occupied by Africa’s most gifted singer-songwriters (Baaba Maal; Ismaël Lô for instance) is visible in his second album, 2017’s Mangaliso, his first through a new deal with Universal Music. The 10-track record is a sumptuous listen that spotlights Mabandla’s artistic growth into one of the most purposeful and gifted artists working in South Africa today.

In support of Mangaliso, Mabandla is playing live – this time augmented by Correia-Paolo on guitar and samples as well as Mike Wright (Zebra & Giraffe) on drums. Watching the trio perform is nothing short of captivating and it’s no surprise to find that Mabandla’s international bookings for 2017 are gathering pace. Already, he’s travelled extensively over the past few years, playing Primavera Sound in Barcelona and Africa Festival in Germany. Mabandla has played all local festivals and also toured Australia, Asia and Canada, substantially expanding his audience through a series of critically-acclaimed live performances

Born in Tsolo, a rural town in the Eastern Cape, Bongeziwe Mabandla displayed all the signs of a passion for art and music from an early age. After studying drama at AFDA, a film television and performance school in Johannesburg, his 2012 debut Umlilo earned two South African Music Awards nominations in 2013, for Best Newcomer and Best Adult African album.

 

JOHNNY CRADLE

Johnny Cradle is a Johannesburg, South Africa based three-piece band. Laz provides the DJ scratch samples and FX, Tebogo J Mosane drums the drums and backs the vocals, Sakie leads the vocals, bass the moog and plays the keys.

With roots in Mdantsane and Umtata in the Eastern Cape and Ga-Rankuwa in Gauteng, it’s no wonder these 80s grown-ups have a diverse influence behind their township slang Xhosa/ English lyrics driven by heavy bass, almost Hip-Hop electronica drum rhythms, DJ cuts reminiscent of golden era Hip-Hop and Bluesy Rock electric guitars.

Johnny Cradle’s self-titled debut album was released in 2017 and shows off the trio’s knack for deep haunting back beats, landscape guitar lines, bullying moog infused bass lines and socially conscious manifestos. Taut and lean, Cradle’s debut boasts a collection of songs that are cerebral as much as they are danceable.

 

BYE BENECO

Bye Beneco is a SAMA nominated Indie band from Johannesburg. Their sound has stemmed from a multitude of musical styles.

This eclectic dream-Pop ensemble has a magnetic energy that elevates their music. The sound stems from various styles, with evocative vocals at the essence of their songwriting.

Forever changing and evolving, the band refers to their opus as somewhat of a musical ADD with Africa being their biggest influence. Bye Beneco have recently released their latest single, ‘Jungle Drums’ accompanied by a new music video. Their new EP, ‘Ghetto Disko’ is out now!

 

BANTU CONTINUA UHURU CONSCIOUSNESS (BCUC)

Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC) moves the audience – both physically and emotionally – with an explosion of passion, funk and rhythm. With their music, straight from the ancestors, BCUC wants to question the common worldview on modern Africa. The basic ingredients of BCUC’s sound are the traditional whistle, percussion and a rocking guitar. Topped by the raw combative voice of Jovi, flowing rap by Luja and Hloni, the sweet and clear vocals of Kgomotso, and chants of all four vocals together. They baptised their unique sound as ‘indigenous Funky Soul’.

BCUC takes the audience along on an intriguing journey to the secret world of modern Africa. They want to rectify western assumptions and show the post-apartheid South Africa from a young, contemporary, different perspective. In 11 languages, BCUC discusses the harsh reality of Africa where especially the unemployed worker forever stays at the bottom of the food chain. And also, they tap into the elusiveness of the spirit world of ancestors that fascinates them. Africa portrayed by BCUC is not poor at all, but rich in tradition, rituals and beliefs.

“We see ourselves as modern freedom fighters who have to tell the story of Soweto’s past, present and future to the world.” – Jovi Nkosi, singer of BCUC

 

ZOE MODIGA

Zoë Modiga who released her debut, Yellow: The Novel, in 2017, was born in Overport, Durban and raised in Pietermaritzburg. Her love for music at a very young age encouraged her to attend the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, Johannesburg where she studied classical piano, clarinet and vocals. She is currently completing her degree in Jazz vocals at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Zoë was in the TOP 8 of The Voice SA, Season 1, sang “Amazing Grace” under the film scoring of Kyle Shepherd in Oscar nominated movie, Noem My Skollie and won the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition for singing in 2015.

Over the past few years, with some experience behind her, this singer-songwriter’s talent has opened a number of doors in the music industry. She has featured on tracks by The Kiffness; the Frank Paco Art Ensemble and Seba Kaapstad. Zoe has been fortunate enough to be part of celebrated festivals such as the Aardklop Festival, Artscape Youth Jazz Festival, the UCT Jazz Festival, Joy of Jazz, the Amersfoort Jazz Festival and The Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

National Civil Rights Museum unveils Freedom Award winners

NCRM Freedom Award2

The Commercial Appeal
USA Today Network
John Beifuss

South African jazz artist and freedom fighter Hugh Masekela (who had a No. 1 hit in 1968 with “Grazing in the Grass”), second-generation activist Bernice A. King (youngest of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s four children), and Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder Morris Dees (who won a $7 million judgment in a lynching case that bankrupted one of America’s largest Ku Klux Klan organizations) will be this year’s recipients of the National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Awards.

“When we identified these three honorees, we didn’t know what was going to happen last weekend,” said civil rights museum president Terri Lee Freeman, referring to the Charlottesville violence, the remarks by President Trump that were praised by neo-Nazis, and subsequent calls to remove Confederate monuments. “I don’t think we could actually have chosen better honorees for this moment in time.”

Freeman said Masekela, 78, Bernice King, 54, and Dees, 80, “exemplify Dr. King’s mission and legacy of fighting for and protecting the rights of every man, woman and child, regardless of their race or social enconomic status,” but especially “the marginalized, subjugated and disenfranchised.”

All three have experience resisting racism at multiple levels, from Masekela’s battles against South Africa’s apartheid system of institutionalized discrimination to King’s ministry as the first female president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to Dees’ lawsuit strategies to bankrupt civil rights violators. 

The signature event of the museum build around the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 5, 1968, the Freedom Awards will be held Oct. 19 at a new location, downtown’s historic Orpheum theater. It will be preceded earlier in the day by a youth forum at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church that will enable students to meet and interact with the honorees.

The 26th annual awards ceremony also will include a special tribute to the Memphis sanitation workers, whose struggles brought Dr. King to Memphis, and inspired the rally cry “I Am a Man,” which came to exemplify Dr. King’s assertion that “all labor has dignity.”

The Freedom Awards will function as a prelude, in a way, for next year’s 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, which the museum plans to recognize with multiple events. The awards ceremony’s theme is “Where Do We Go from Here?,” a question aimed at not just the museum but society in general as to marks the grim anniversary.

Some of those leading the call to remove Confederate monuments from Memphis public parks have said the statues should be removed by at least the assassination anniversary. Said Freeman: “I don’t think the issue is going to go away until the statues go away.”

Past recipients of the Freedom Award have included Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Sidney Poitier, Stevie Wonder, the Dalai Lama, and at least three people so famous — Bono, Oprah and Usher — they don’t need last names. Sponsors for this year’s ceremony include FedEx, International Paper and the Hyde Family Foundation.

 

NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM 26th FREEDOM AWARDS

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main.

Red carpet ceremony and pre-show gala, 5-7 p.m. Oct. 19, Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education, 225 S. Main. 

Student forum, 10 a.m., Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, 70 N. Bellevue. Admission free.

Freedom Awards tickets range from $200-$250 and will be available at civilrightsmuseum.org.

Be Pioneers of African Heritage Restoration

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Hugh Masekela Honoured by Wits University

WITS University

Music icon Hugh Masekela tells graduands to “go out there and kick some booty’.

Wits University today conferred on honorary Doctor of Music degree on Bra Hugh Masekela in the Great Hall, the same stage where he performed as a 19-year-old member of the orchestra in the opening concert of Todd Matshikiza’s landmark jazz opera King Kong.

“I am deeply honoured and honesty humbled,” Masekela said in his acceptance speech.

He implored graduands to become the “new pioneers of African heritage restoration at a time when we seem to be leaning on the brink of being wholly swallowed by most Western culture and several Middle Eastern and Eastern civilizations to the exclusion of our own traditions”.

Masekela says there are innumerable alarming reasons that African society needs to heed for the revival of African heritage restoration, such as the gradual demise of the mother tongue in almost all African countries. “A decade or two from now, African society will be the first in human history to have abandoned its native tongues in preference to those manipulated by colonial rule if we do not soon reinstitute our own languages back into our homes, schools and social interaction with each other.”

He told graduands to learn and teach “our own history” instead of the European education that still consumes us – something that has left us convinced that our heritage is “backward, savage, pagan, primitive, barbaric and uncivilized”.

“We have long relegated our magnificent vernacular literature to the dust and insect-infested floors of crumbling old warehouses in favour of imported writings, hip hop, rap and other forms of trending fashions that distance us as far as possible from our rich traditional legacy.

“We need to study, learn, and teach our traditional music, dance, oral literature and more in our own academies and future educational institutions where we can revive and redevelop what has been lost from the positive content of our glorious history without abandoning the best of what the West has brought to our otherwise void-encrusted lives,” he said.

Masekela also called for a return to the trader society, the great manufacturing civilization Africa once was, and to “cease being consumer fodder”.

“The time is now for Africans to rediscover and regenerate the existing wealth of their artisanship and original design talents and skills so that we can begin to manufacture furniture, linens, cutlery, crockery, bedding, clothing, interior décor materials and fabrics and other household goods for retail and export not exclusive of traditional architecture and construction to replace the frenzied purchase of commodities from other lands.”

“Go out there and kick some booty,” he said resulting in a thundering applause from graduands.

 

 

No Borders Picks Up SAMA

No Borders News

Love SA Entertainment
Simon Hodgson

Last night, 26 May saw the first night of SAMA23 taking place at Sun City.

The night belonged to Khaya Mthethwa. The former Idols SA winner picked up two trophies for his album The Dawn in the Best Contemporary Faith Music Album and Best Live Audio Visual Recording categories.

It was a good night for gospel as the late singer S’fiso Ncwane won the Best Selling Digital Artist for his album Ngipholise Nkosi; and gospel ensemble Joyous Celebration’s Joyous 20 DVD, earned them the Best Selling DVD gong.

The stage is set for a showdown between two of the most nominated artists as Kwesta and Amanda Black took home one award apiece. Kwesta triumphed in the Best Collaboration Award category with his monster hit Ngud’ while Amanda collected the Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album for her release Amazulu.

They go into the main awards show tomorrow night with four nominations each.

In a SAMA first, Nigerian reggae/dancehall singer Patoranking won the inaugural Best African Artist.

Other notable winners from tonight are Hugh Masekela for Best Adult Contemporary Album for No Borders; the young dynamic duo Soul Kulture for Best African Adult Album for Ngeliny’ilanga; and Nduduzo Makhathini with Umgidi Trio and One Voice Vocal Ensemble for Best Jazz Album for Inner Dimensions.

In the technical awards, Sjava’s Isina Muva won the Best Produced Album of the Year; Arno Carstens’ Aandblom took Best Engineered Album of the Year; while Best Music Video of the Year went to Miss Pru for Ameni.

Here is the full list of winners. The main awards show will be live on SABC 1 tonight at 8pm.

Best Adult Contemporary

Hugh Masekela – No Borders

Best African Adult

Soul Kulture – Ngeliny’ilanga

Best Alternative Music Album

Native Young – Kings

Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album

Amanda Black – Amazulu

Best Contemporary Faith Music Album

Khaya Mthethwa – The Dawn

Beste Pop Album

ADAM – Hoogtevrees

Best Jazz Album

Nduduzo Makhathini with Umgidi Trio and One Voice Vocal Ensemble – Inner Dimensions

Best Classical and/Instrumental Album

Charl du Plessis Trio – Baroqueswing Vol. II

Best Traditional Music Album

Dr Thomas Chauke Na Shinyori Sisters – Shimatsatsa No 34: Xiganga

Best African Artist

Patoranking – Patoranking

Best Live Audio Visual Recording

Khaya Mthethwa -The Dawn

Best Collaboration

Kwesta – Ngud’

Best Music Video of the Year

Miss Pru – Ameni

Best Produced Album of the Year

sjava – Isina Muva

Best Engineered Album of the Year

Arno Carstens – Aandblom 13

Best Remix of the Year

Vic – Wena Wedwa (MusicCraftMAN Mix)

Best Selling DVD of the Year

Joyous Celebration 20

Best Selling Digital Artist

Sfiso Ncwane – Ngipholise Nkosi

Best Selling Album of the Year

My Hart Bly In n Taal – Refentse

CAPASSO Best Selling Digital Download Composer’s Award

Sfiso Ncwane – Ngipholise Nkosi

Bra Hugh withdraws from US Shows April / May 2017

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Press Release

Hugh Masekela was advised by his physician not to travel to the US following a recent fall in Morocco in which he dislocated his right shoulder. The injury was not initially thought to be too serious, but after further assessment it emerged that the fall aggravated old shoulder and back injuries which Hugh sustained in 1993, (when he suffered ruptured tendons and ligament damage in both shoulders after falling through a hole in the stage during a performance at the JHB City Hall).

The medical advice was therefore to remain in SA in order to undergo an immediate operation to repair the back tendons, and then extended rest, in order not to risk any future permanent damage.

He will thus not be allowed to perform for at least 4 weeks

This affects the following shows:

The 27 April Jazz Epistles Performance at Town Hall, New York, NY will continue with Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya with Lesedi Ntsane.

The 29 April Jazz Epistles Performance at the New Orleans Jazz Festival will continue with Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya with Lesedi Ntsane.

Lesedi Ntsane is a talented young South African trumpet player, who recently graduated from the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. Bra Hugh recommended Lesedi Ntsane as an exciting musician of amazing ability for whom he has tremendous respect.

The 30 April Jazz Epistles Performance at the Atlanta Jazz Festival has been cancelled.

The 4 May Tribute to Louis Armstrong at the New Orleans Jazz Festival will continue as scheduled, featuring Nicholas Payton, James Andrews and Dr Michael White.

Bra Hugh is deeply disappointed that he cannot perform at these shows and hopes to be back on stage by the end of May. He looks forward to seeing his loyal US fans when the Jazz Epistles return in 2018.

UKZN Honours Masekela with Doctorate

UKZN Doctorate

Fanele Mhlongo
SABC

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has conferred honorary doctorates on African Music Legend, Hugh Masekela, and international environmental activist, Dr Kumi Naidoo.

Masekela has been awarded a Doctor of Music Degree for his outstanding contribution to the music industry, while Dr Kumi Naidoo was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the South African struggle for democracy, the international fight against climate change and the struggle against poverty and injustice.

Dr Naidoo is the launch director of the Pan African social movement, Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity.

Masekela was honoured during a graduation ceremony of the College of Humanities. He is a popular African music legend whose campaign through music has contributed to the fight for a free South Africa.

Masekela is a world-renowned musician and a political struggle icon. He has mentored a generation of producers and musicians who have contributed to the teaching and practical knowledge of jazz and popular music in South Africa and globally.

He says mother tongue-languages should be prioritised.

“As you open a new door to the rest of your lives, I request you to consider a number of issues that pertain to restoring excellence of African heritage back into our lives without abandoning the best elements of what we inherited from the western world. Volumes of African language, history and literature books lay covered with dust and ticks in basements and warehouses all over the continent and parts of Europe,” says Masekela.

When asked about the political situation in the country and the recent #FeesMustFall campaigns at tertiary institutions, Masekela says a number of things need more attention in the country.

“Many things must fall in South Africa not just fees, many things because I think that we have to recapture what was fought for and what many people died for in this country.”

Meanwhile, Dr Kumi Naidoo who has been recognised for his contribution to the South African struggle for democracy has condemned violence.

Naidoo says people in rural areas are still lagging behind in terms of service delivery which leads to community protests.

Naidoo, who was also active in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa during his student years, has called on young activists to speak up.

Naidoo and Masakela say they are humbled at being recognised by academia for their contribution to South Africa’s struggle for freedom.

No Borders Launch Live at the Lyric

No Borders Launch

Kaya FM 95.9 and Bassline Live Present another iconic show on Friday 14th April as we host the legendary Hugh Masekela live on stage at The Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City. Originally based at Bassline’s old Newtown venue, the series has happily moved and in doing so, set the bar on entertainment higher than ever before.

The Home of the Afropolitan, Kaya FM is proud to be partners in presenting the internationally renowned and phenomenal Hugh Masekela. The Jazz maestro presented his latest album No Borders exclusively on Kaya FM in November 2016. Listen out for exclusive interviews leading up to the showcase.  Bra Hugh will also be performing tracks from the album live for the very first time at this event, making it an even more exclusive experience.

The Kaya Fm & Bassline Live series experienced yet another sold-out show as Thandiswa Mazwai blew the audience away with her “The Belede Experience” performance in March, seeing her jazz roots come alive in spectacular fashion. The series has historically grown from strength to strength, culminating in the past two shows being sold out sometime before performance date, and we predict with Bra Hugh it will be a similar, if not even faster rush for the box office.

Hugh Masekela needs very little introduction to South African audiences.  A world-renowned flugelhornist, singer and defiant political voice, his eclectic musical style is infused with jazz and mbaqanga, combining his gravelly voice and smooth horn sounds with an ever-present concern for his home and country, having lived 30 years of his life in exile.  In his career, he has released well over 40 albums and at the age of 77 he released his brand new work ‘No Borders’, featuring extraordinary collaborations with diverse artists including Zimbabwean legend Oliver Mtukudzi, J Something from pop group Micasa, Themba Mokoena, Salema Masekela and Sunny Levin. He has been celebrated in numerous ways over the years for his outstanding work and contribution to arts and culture and is currently using his global reach to spread the word about heritage restoration in Africa.  “My biggest obsession is to show Africans and the world who the people of Africa really are”, he explains, and it is this commitment to his home continent that has propelled him forward since the beginning of his career.

We are honoured to be able to have this icon join our family of superstars in the Kaya FM & Bassline Live Presents series. Book now to avoid missing out!

Sunday 11 June – 5pm.Tickets: R300 – R750.  Book at Computicket.  No door sales.

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Bra Hugh Vouches for African Unity

Ghana Inauguration

21 January 2017
Sowetan Live
Lesley Mofokeng

 

I ask Bra Hugh if he’s on Twitter. He replies: “No, but I’m on Whatsapp.” I’m defeated.

He notices my disappointment and we burst out in laughter.

He may not be as tech-savvy and on top of social media trends as I would like him to be, and at 77 it’s kind of understandable. But Hugh Masekela is not shy to express himself.

We begin our quick chat in the comfort of his offices in chic Parkhurst, Johannesburg north. He’s just got back from Ghana where he performed at the inauguration of the new president Nana Akufo-Addo.

“He’s an old friend that I met through Fela [Kuti] in the 70s, because he was Fela’s lawyer. And I’ve watched him for 40 years aspire for this office because his passion for Ghana is so deep, and it’s a pleasure to finally see him get it.

“He lost twice in the last 10 years, the last time he lost by 20000 votes, but now he won by a million and half votes. Sometimes patience helps.”

Masekela is one of the greatest living musicians of our time, and he continues to release music. His newest is No Borders. He makes no apologies for being a proponent of Africa without borders.

“The music speaks for itself. You can feel geographically where we are most of the time. I’m very obsessed with cancelling the borders in people’s minds and let them get a sense of who they are.

“The Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation does work in the historical space. Our people don’t know anything about themselves.

“Cancelling borders in our heads and nationalism will help us to get rid of xenophobia, especially if we knew our history because most of us re makwerekwere (we are foreigners) historically. I tell people when I’m on stage that us, the Masekelas taught the Batlokwa how to till the land, but originally we are the Munyepawu and come from Zimbabwe.

“Even in our praise singing it’s there.”

The album is an eclectic mix of sounds and influences, a nomadic journey from Cape to Cairo, Dakar to Addis.

He recorded Been Such A Long Time Gone first some 40 years ago on the album I’m Not Afraid, which had the original Stimela and The Marketplace.

“It’s like a trip from the desert right down. At the end it says right across the river Limpopo white soldiers standing in the road, then pop goes my dream, but I didn’t put that in because that was an apartheid reference.”

Congo Woman, is a delightful tribute to the DRC, the land of a thousand dances. In it he celebrates the dances – kwassa kwassa, rumba and others.

“I was inspired by Papa Wemba. There is a great album of his called Bakala Di A Kuba. In it he has this song where he sings with four other Congolese and they exchange parts, so I called my nephew and Kabomo and Tresor to put in the Congolese feel.”

Other feature are JSomething on Heaven In You, Oliver Mtukudzi on Tapera and Themba Mokoena on The Rooster and KwaZulu. It is produced by Kunle Ayo

Perhaps his most important recording is In An Age with his son Selema, known as Alekesam in Hollywood.

“He’s been a musician since he was a kid. When he started school he played the clarinet, the saxophone and has always been able to sing. He got together with Sunny Levin, who is my best friend’s son and they formed a group and Sunny wrote the song and they asked me to rap on it and put something in an African language, so I chose a Tswana verse.

“I’d like this album to have an impact on whoever is listening to it, a curiosity about Africa, and African history and the whole borders situation. It should awaken interest about our origins. And I hope they enjoy the music.”

In three months Masekela turns 78.

“I feel very fortunate. I was bewitched with music when I was a child and I ended up living in it. I never planned to get where I am today. I just went into it for the passion. And it brought me halfway around the world a few times.

He is thankful to have met some of the greatest people in the world thanks to his music.

“I was helped by a lot of people, especially Miriam, Father Huddleston, and Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. I was able to go to exile for 30 years and still come back home to see the change and the freedom of our people.

“I think we are in a disappointing era in our lives. What we hoped for for our freedom is not really taking place. I really hope everyone had the chances and opportunities that you and I have, at least to live a half a decent life. The truth is that the majority of our people are poor.”