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Bayelsa International Jazz Festival


BIJF: Femi Kuti, Hugh Masekela soak Yenagoa in jazz

The Sun
Kemi Yesufu

The Yuletide season couldn’t have started on a better note for Bayelsans and numerous jazz enthusiasts who stormed the Gloryland Cultural Center, Yenagoa on Saturday, December 7 for the inaugural edition of the Bayelsa International Jazz Festival.

All over Yenagoa, which is fast earning a reputation of a town that never sleeps, Christmas decorations give visitors a feel of celebration. It therefore came as no surprise that the Gloryland Center, venue of the jazz fiesta was filled to capacity. The atmosphere at the venue was carnival-like. It is doubtful that there were unoccupied seats as those who couldn’t get a place to sit, stood for the better part of the lively show which opened with a heart lifting rendition of the national anthem by Timi Dakolo.

Festival dedicated to Mandela

The Bayelsa International Jazz Festival took place two days after the death of highly revered Anti-Apartheid icon and first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. After leading in observing a minute of silence in respect of the late African leader, Governor Dickson announced that the festival was dedicated to him. The announcement was met with loud jubilation even as the governor declared that Mandela’s legacy is indelibly etched in the hearts of millions across the world. The governor was to return to the stage for a second time to present legendary South African musician, Hugh Masekela with the honorary citizenship of Bayelsa State.

Presidential commendation

President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented at the event by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Chief Edem Duke, commended the Bayelsa governor for honoring the memory of Mandela. He reminded guests that the federal government had earlier declared three days of mourning in recognition of the great contributions of the late icon to the emancipation of the black race. He said the dedication of such a major event to Mandela, points to the sterling leadership qualities of Governor Dickson.

“I am extremely delighted that this government dedicated this evening of jazz to celebrate an icon, whose struggle, vision, quality, courage, passion, commitment, belief, and whose integrity is definitive of the new and emerging leaders of Africa,” he said.

South Africa High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Lulu Louis Mnguni, while expressing gratitude for the recognition given Mandela, said that the event also presented an opportunity to celebrate musicians such as Masekela and Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who fought apartheid through music. Rwandan envoy, Mr. Joseph Habineza, equally had words of praise for the people of Bayelsa as he described their state as the emerging Las Vegas of Africa.

N200m for Bayelsa musicians

It wasn’t only the South African maestro who was honored by the Bayelsa State government. Governor Dickson also announced the donation of N200 million as the initial sum for the establishment of a music school in the state and an endowment fund for Ijaw artistes. Timaya, Timi Dakolo, Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria and Honorary Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism, Anne Banner joined him in presenting the donation to the Director General of the state’s tourism agency, Ebizi Ndomu-Brown. Dickson who stressed his commitment to youth empowerment, called on young people in the state to take advantage of the opportunities presented by his administration.

Night of scintillating jazz

It definitely wasn’t a night for speeches. Rather it was a harvest of world-class entertainment. Though, jazz super star, Earl Klugh sent his apologies via a video message, he wasn’t missed, as the artistes on the night were superb. There never was a dull moment, not even for new entrants in jazz music. Starting from Ego whose smooth jazz tunes set the standard for the night. She showed fun seekers why her voice is celebrated. Then there was African jazz groove from Ogangbe, the 7-piece Benin Republic band that has worked with big names like Femi Kuti and Lagbaja. There was also the invigorating performance from jazz vocalist and instrumentalist, Lekan Babalola. The lanky musician and his 14-member crew that included the Eko Brass Band got the crowd singing along. Then, there was the energetic drum session by South Africa-based, Delta-born drummer, Daniel Isele. He heralded the entrance of the 22-man Naijazz All-Stars Band. Highflying jazz vocalist, Somi also had a good time on stage. Her three-song set ended with her cover of Fela’s ‘Lady’.

Masekela, Femi channel Fela

Undoubtedly, South African trumpeter and vocalist, Hugh Masekela and Femi Kuti were the star attractions for the Bayelsa International Jazz festival. Their five-star performances ensured that they lived up to the hype. Masekela whose vigour and stagecraft makes it hard to believe that he is 74-years-old got a standing ovation after his performance. The music icon, who along with his band, performed in the Ijaw traditional attires, channeled late Afrobeat creator, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti with his version of ‘Lady’. He further won the hearts of guests at the show when he pronounced very well Izonkene, the name given him by Governor Dickson.

Femi Kuti and his band took their turn on stage. He promised to give Bayelsans a taste of what is enjoyed at the New Afrika Shrine and he did. Despite the semi-formal atmosphere at the show, Femi’s dancers were at their best moving their bodies like they do back in their base. Most men at the show had an eyeful of the fire dance African women are known for. Femi, who joined the girls at some point for dance sessions, as usual didn’t spare government his dosage of ‘yabis’. Though, he commended Governor Dickson for the developmental projects dotting the state, he advised that more should be done to improve the lot of Bayelsans. Songs like ‘Sorry Sorry’, ‘Truth Don Die’, ‘Dem Bobo’, ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and ‘Water’ got the 4th Grammy nominee loud cheers from the crowd.

The show lasted till the early hours of Sunday, but the happiness exhibited by fun seekers was indicative of the fact that it had what it takes to become a major event in the Nigeria’s tourism calendar.

Festival of Lights

Festive Lights Switch On 2012

Top entertainers usher in Festival of Lights celebrations

City of Cape Town

The City of Cape Town’s festive season kicks into top gear on Sunday, 1 December 2013, when Executive Mayor, Alderman Patricia de Lille, switches on the city’s traditional festive lights, signalling the start of an exciting two-month programme.

The Festival of Lights celebrations, in the build-up to the traditional switch-on, will start at 16:00 and feature a star-studded entertainment line-up on the Grand Parade.

At 20:30 Mayor De Lille will ‘flick the switch’ to light up Cape Town’s traditional festive lights, amid a spectacular fireworks and laser display.

‘We are committed to uniting the many diverse communities from across the metropole and invite all Capetonians to come out in their numbers and enjoy the celebrations. An event is a uniting force and people come out with a common purpose, to relax and have fun together in a shared space. We would like to see the “gees” once again at this year’s festive season events,’ says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Councillor Grant Pascoe.

Headlining the pre-switch-on entertainment is South Africa’s pre-eminent trumpeter-singer-songwriter, twice Grammy-nominated jazz legend Hugh Masekela. With 60 years in the music business, Masekela holds the Order of Ikhamanga from President Zuma (2010) and a WOMEX Lifetime Achievement Award (2011). He has also appeared the world over alongside the likes of Paul Simon and the late Miriam Makeba and Miles Davis.

Mi Casa will then take to the stage for an electrifying street party. The South African Music Award-winning, Johannesburg-based house music trio have topped various charts nationwide and have opened for a number of major international acts.

Also in the line-up are local crossover band Hot Water, the classically trained vocal maestro Selim Kagee, chart-topping electro-swing outfit GoodLuck, pop singer/songwriter Jimmy Nevis and Cape Town’s beloved dance-pop band The Rockets. They will be followed by DJ LuWayne at 21:40, who will spin the latest and greatest hits for revellers until 22:00.

The celebrations will be hosted by award-winning local entertainers Sorina ‘Die Flooze’ Erasmus of 7de Laan fame and Terence Bridgett who has appeared in Isidingo, Backstage and 7de Laan.

South Africa’s largest free open-air public event, the Festival of Lights, coincides with the start of the four-week countdown to Cape Town assuming the coveted title of World Design Capital (WDC) 2014 – a historic moment that will take centre stage at the City’s first New Year’s Eve celebrations on 31 December 2013, to be held on the Grand Parade.

Healing Our Heritage

Photograph by Gallo/Foto24

Destiny Man
Gwen Podbrey

Photograph by Gallo/Foto24

Jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela may be a global icon, but his heart remains firmly in Mzansi – and he’s looking to restore its cultural identity.

At 74, Bra Hugh shows no signs of slowing down or resting on his laurels. Far from it. Indeed, he’s involved in several projects – recording, performing and writing – while preparing for the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival, which takes place on Saturday, 28 September at the Elkah Stadium in the Soweto Cricket Oval and includes appearances by Thandiswa Mazwai, Mi Casa, Jeremy Loops, Desmond & the Tutus, Pu2ma, Phuzekhemisi and Khaya Mahlangu. It’s backed by Assupol, Soweto TV and Jozi FM.

It’s a fitting event for a man who’s done more than any other local musician to put South Africa and its music on the global map, and who’s revered internationally not only for his unique style and his flawless technique, but also for his numerous compositions, his professionalism and – above all – his utter commitment to his art.

He’s also acclaimed for his remarkable versatility: this is a trumpeter who’s as much at ease performing laid-back, Thirties and Forties Cole Porter and Gershwin with his long-time friend, pianist Larry Willis (the two released a box set last year titled Friends, which is set to become a classic) as he is rocking up a storm at a live gig, spending many hours in the recording studio, helping to showcase other artists or attending to releases under his own label.

The upcoming heritage festival, he says, is something he’s long wanted: not to blow his own trumpet (though he’ll certainly be doing that too!), but to have a platform in the heart of SA’s best-known township to bring authentic South African music and artists to the people. “When I was growing up, music was an integral part of the townships,” he says. “We played and heard it all day. Music surrounded us at all times. On weekends there were brass bands playing and marching, kids chanting songs in the street and singing groups on every corner. We had no TV or other entertainment – music was our way of life. If someone was getting married, there’d be a white flag attached to the house and the choir would practise for days leading up to the event.

“Today, that’s all disappeared. People in the townships – particularly the youth – have completely lost that element. And with it, they’ve lost a huge part of both who they were and who they are. Kids have no idea of their history, of what their mothers and fathers and neighbours went through, or the role music played in binding communities together and helping people survive the years of oppression. They’re listening to other music, by other artists in genres that aren’t part of township culture, and sung in English. I fear the day when our young people say: ‘They tell us we used to be Africans once.’

“What I’m trying to do is restore pride in their heritage, in their ethnic identity, in their language and in their artists. So the festival is a good platform for that.”

He’s excited about the surge of explosive young talent in the country, and while he doesn’t regard himself as a mentor – rather as a fellow artist who happens to have a lot more experience and exposure, and who loves collaborating – he says he sees and hears daily proof of Mzansi artists who can ignite a flame of cultural revival that will burn for generations to come.

He’s also turned to stage musicals as another format for realising his cultural vision. His musical, Songs of Migration – written and directed by James Ngcobo and featuring stupendous diva Sibongile Khumalo – drew on Bra Hugh’s own iconic compositions (Stimela, Languta) work, as well as some of the most poignant and powerful traditional songs ever to emanate from South Africa’s dispossessed, divided and disinherited communities. The show was highly successful, with lengthy runs in Johannesburg, as well as performances in Cape Town and a tour to Europe. He’s aiming to revive the show, as well as do others reflecting the legacies of the Manhattan Brothers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Miriam Makeba.

Though he has no plans to retire anytime soon, Bra Hugh’s mindful of the need to document his career and his own remarkable journey, from shebeen-born Alexandra urchin to celebrated jazz maestro on the stages of Europe, Asia and the rest of Africa. It’s a journey that’s included wild, bohemian living, artistic and personal bonds with some of the greatest names in music, marital upheavals, personal heartbreak, substance addiction, rehabilitation and – above all – a passion for living, crying, laughing and uplifting through his instrument. His autobiography, Still Grazing, covered his life to the point where he returned from his years of exile to post-liberation South Africa. He’s now busy revising and extending it.

Then, of course, his extremely busy international touring schedule sees him spending much of the year abroad. And his recording work continues: his latest release, Playing @ Work, has been ecstatically received – and he has many more in the pipeline.

Anyone who’s watched Bra Hugh on stage knows why he’s considered one of the world’s greatest live performers: consummately professional, yet warm, relaxed and utterly unpretentious, he has audiences spellbound. His astonishing energy, vibrancy and discipline – as well as his superb group – take both music and audience to a state of near-hypnotic power. Yet for all the excitement, he’s in complete control of everything happening both on stage and in the audience. It’s a level of authority and confidence very few artists anywhere in the world can match.

Don’t miss his festival this coming weekend. It’s one of the most appropriate ways there could be of celebrating both SA’s heritage, and one of its greatest artists.

Southern Masters of Jazz Join Forces


Therese Owen

High-brow jazz forms a major part of the annual Arts Alive this year. It will be one of the rare occasions when South Africans will be able to see Hugh Masekela play classical jazz. He will be joined by life-long friend and jazz pianist extraordinaire Larry Willis.

Their performance forms part of the South Meets South – An Evening with the Masters performance. India’s violin icon, Dr L Subramaniam and Egberto Gismonto from Brazil complete the line-up. The concert is taking place at the Bassline on September 7.

Bassline’s Brad Holmes conceptualised the show and is very excited about what will transpire on the night. It is also in keeping with South Africa’s inclusion in the Brazil, Russian, India, China and South Africa group with cultural items from Brazil, India, and China featuring strongly in the content across artistic genres.

“It is an evening with the legends and I have chosen four musicians over the age of 70,” he enthused. “It’s going to be very personal and they will all end up playing together at the end.”

“Gismonti is a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist who is known for playing guitar. However, he will be playing piano.”

Looking at his vast repertoire, it is doubtful the man sleeps. He has recorded more than 60 albums, 27 scores for ballets, 28 film scores, 13 TV series and 11 theatre productions.

Bra Hugh and Willis have known each other for 60 years and tour the US as a duet.

They met at the Manhattan School of Music as students. Willis has played on more that 300 albums and recorded with greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and Shirley Horn.

Pu2ma will provide the vocals to their performance.

Dr Subramaniam composed for film productions such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha and Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay and Missisippi Masala.

He has more than 150 releases and has collaborated with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau and Joe Sample.

South Meets South will take place at Mary Fitzgerald Square under a dome. Tickets are available from Computicket.

The Johannesburg Arts Alive festival starts on Sunday with Jazz on the Lake.

This annual free festival boasts a strong line-up yet again. Mafikizolo is a must-see, particularly after their latest release and massive success of their songs Khona and Happiness.

The mbaqanga legend, Phuzekhemisi, makes a rare appearance at this end of the country and is also a great live experience.

Brenda Mntambo has been making waves in and outside of gospel.

There’s also a special treat for jazz heads in the Satchmo Trumpet Summit (from the US), while the Sufi Gospel Project from India promises to spice things up.

Please be aware that there will be road closures from 9am.

eTuk Tuks are available for the first time, and there is a park and ride from the Metro Building in Braamfontein and the Alexandra football stadium.

Assupol presents the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival

Press Release

100 year old insurer, Assupol, will present the Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival on Saturday 28 September 2013 in the heart of Soweto.

The event sees the continuation of the insurer’s collaboration with Hugh Masekela, the celebrated trumpeter, who has appeared in Assupol’s TV advertising campaign since July last year.

The Festival will be staged at the Soweto Cricket Oval (also known as the Elkah Cricket Stadium) in Lefatola Street, Rockville, Soweto, with an incredibly diverse line-up of supporting artists handpicked by Hugh Masekela.

The line-up will include Thandiswa Mazwai, Phuzekhemisi, Mi Casa, Desmond & The Tutus, Pu2ma, Khaya Mahlangu, Jeremy Loops and of course Bra Hugh himself as the headline act.

“I’m really looking forward to this festival. I always love performing in Soweto and with this wonderful and eclectic array of talent on the line-up, I think it’s going to be a very special day”, says Hugh Masekela, who at 74 years is showing no signs of slowing down. He has also recently released a new album called “Playing At Work” to positive reviews.

The Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival aims to become an annual event moving forward, to celebrate Heritage month and to honour the people of Soweto.

Annelize van Blerk, Head of Corporate Affairs at Assupol, said: “Bra Hugh has a busy international touring schedule and it is only an honour for us to bring him to Soweto, a township that has supported and influenced his music over the years”.

“For us this concert is a fitting way to celebrate 100 years of Assupol, with a legend in the South African music industry who like Assupol, has stood the test of time”, she continued.

This concert is made possible by Assupol and supported by Soweto TV and Jozi FM.

computicket1 @ R100

At the Gate @ R150


International Jazz Day Istanbul 2013


The International Jazz Day Global Concert

Webcast Available Worldwide at

April 30, 2013 — 9pm (Istanbul)

7pm (London) / 2pm (New York) / 4am (Sydney – May 1st)

The evening concert at Istanbul’s famed Hagia Irene will feature performances by stellar musicians from around the world, including pianists John Beasley, George Duke, Robert Glasper, Herbie Hancock, Ramsey Lewis, Keiko Matsui and Eddie Palmieri; vocalists Rubén Blades, Al Jarreau, Milton Nascimento, Dianne Reeves and Joss Stone; trumpeters Terence Blanchard, Imer Demirer and Hugh Masekela; bassists James Genus, Marcus Miller, Esperanza Spalding and Ben Williams; drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Vinnie Colaiuta; guitarists Bilal Karaman, John McLaughlin, Lee Ritenour and Joe Louis Walker; saxophonists Dale Barlow, Igor Butman, Branford Marsalis, Wayne Shorter and Liu Yuan; clarinetists Anat Cohen and Hüsnü Şenlendirici; violinist Jean-Luc Ponty; Pedrito Martinez and Zakir Hussain on percussion and other special guests. John Beasley will be the event’s musical director.

WOMAD Guardian Blog and Review

Hugh Masekela at WOMADelaide – Review, Interview and Blog Excerpts

The Guardian
Caspar Llewellyn Smith

Photograph by Alicia Canter for the Guardian
Photograph by Alicia Canter for the Guardian


It was a fine way to celebrate a 21st birthday: blistering temperatures, beautiful surroundings and plenty to learn from your elders. Some of the leading perfomers at WOMADelaide in Adelaide’s Botanic Park were more than a match for their superannuated peers in the world of rock when it came to demonstrating that near-enough eligibility for a senior citizen’s card is no barrier to putting on a show. For my tastes, the 64-year-old Jimmy Cliff on Saturday night was a bit too much the showman – particularly with his version of Hakuna Matata from The Lion King – but his contemporary Salif Keita was spellbinding once his band found their groove earlier the same night.

Keita was one of three leading acts from Mali at the festival this year, with a focus on that country because of the political turmoil and jihadist uprising. Vieux Farka Touré may always struggle to escape the shadow of his father, the late Ali Farka Touré, but Bassekou Kouyaté – whose family have played the ngoni for generations – is already well on his way to becoming a true star. His son, Mustafa, is in his band now, and took an impressive solo during their performance on the main stage on Friday night; but the look on his face later when his old man let rip with his instrument, making liberal use of his wah-wah pedal, told its own story. Like everyone in the audience, he just puffed out his cheeks as if to say “Woah!”.

Bassekou and co were busy playing throughout the weekend – plus there was an appearance from his wife (and vocalist in the group) Amy at the Taste the World stage, where acts show off their cooking skills, one of the measures of WOMADelaide’s civilised demeanour. I especially liked the sound of Novalima’s ceviche, and the band of expat Peruvians also excelled on the third stage on Sunday afternoon. Likewise Brooklyn-based Afrobeat outfit Antibalas on Saturday, whose performance was perhaps especially charged because singer Amayo had heard the news the night before that his mother had passed away in his native Lagos; and also Moriarty, a band from France whose parents mostly came from the US, and who sound like they come from the backroads, somewhere way off any interstate.

It was, as well, a joy to get a sense of the rich diversity of musical life in this corner of the planet. The festival began with a traditional kaurna greeting from Stevie Goldsmith and dancers and encompassed a bluesy-take on Aboriginal music from East Journey, who come from the Yirrkala community in North East Arnhem Land; also a performance from Sing Sing, involving acts from across Oceania; vibrant Aussie hip-hop from the Herd; and two of the most talked-about acts in the country.

If Stevie Goldsmith represents a tradition that is several millennia old, Melbourne band the Cat Empire who headlined the main stage on Friday night may well stand for the future, with their kitchen-sink appropriation of genres from around the globe, including hip-hop, reggae and salsa. Similarly brave, in their own way, were funk-soul champions the Bamboos on Sunday, who’ve added a bit of gnarled rock to their schtick thanks to guest frontman Tim Rogers. Both acts drew vast crowds in the relative cool of the evening (it was still sticky in the pitch dark).

With more than 470 performers from 26 countries appearing over the course of the four days, any review could only scratch the surface of WOMADelaide: there was also the much talked about “Blank Page”, performance art from the Compagnie Luc Amoros (looked good, even if the political messaging was a bit gauche); lots of buzz for the electro-swing of UK act the Correspondents (not to my taste, alas); the rock of the delicate-looking Algerian singer Souad Massi (inviting some dangerous-looking dancing as temperatures touched 40 degrees on Sunday afternoon); and Balkan swagger of that evening’s headliner Goran Bregovic.

Bregovic came within a whisker of stealing the weekend. The Marco Pierre White lookalike is a masterful chef d’orchestre, as they say in other parts of the world; he looked like the boss man in his immaculate silver suit, but stay seated for most of his by turns moving and then uproarious performance, letting his superb 18-piece band – involving, I think, a mixture of authentic Gypsy players such as the Kosovan refugee goc drummer Muharem Redzepi and conservatory pros including saxophonist Stojan Dimovget – get on with it. But for the odd moment when he did calm things down – as with a rendition of his hilarious In the Death Car – he mesmerised, too.

Someone at the festival (was it the band Moriarty?) said that Adelaide has the highest number of serial killers per head of population in the world. I don’t know about that. But on the basis of the dancing as Bregovic’s set came to a close, there were certainly plenty of bona fide nutters there.

Best of all for this reviewer, though, as previously described, was Hugh Masekela, who headlined on Saturday, but also hung around the festival site all weekend, giving a talk in Speakers Corner and guesting on the Monday with the Soweto Gospel Choir. He showed with his own performance how he has learned to entertain over the years – busting some dance moves, playing famous songs such as Stimela, talking about the environment (“Let’s make a resolution that when we see someone shitting on nature, we’re going to say ‘get off the pot!'”); but it’s when he blows softly on his horn that the real magic is there.

“Not too bad for a boy from a shebeen,” he said at one point, talking about his career and the distance it stretches from the township in South Africa in which he was born in 1939 – a phrase that might have served notice on his performance. But better came at the very end, when in the heat, he showed more effortless cool. The compere urged further applause “for a real legend”, and the 73-year-old, already half-off stage, yelled back: “No one’s a legend!”


Hugh Masekela – what I’m thinking about … a crisis for African culture

It is said that 11 of the world’s 20 fastest growing economies are in Africa, but when you talk about the economy, who are you talking about? The rich will benefit but the poor will always remain poor. In China, the economy is booming, but the poverty rate there is appalling; the US economy is the biggest in the world, but poverty there is appalling, too. So when you talk to me about the economy, in my mind that translates as “the establishment”. The ones who run the economy, the ones who own it, are the ones who benefit from it.

In my view, Africa’s real problems are cultural. In 20 years from now, when people ask my grandchildren who they are, they’ll say “it is rumoured that we used to be Africans – long ago”. I’m very interested in heritage restoration, and I’m working with a group of people to create a number of academies and performance spaces to encourage native arts and crafts and to explore African history.

I’ve got to where am in life not because of something I brought to the world but through something I found – the wealth of African culture.

Africa was not only conquered, but in conquest, through the imposition of new religions and the misunderstanding of the aims of education, and later on through advertising, Africans were manipulated into thinking that their own heritage is backward: primitive, pagan, heathen, barbaric. We need a renaissance to celebrate the wealth of diversity that really exists. Now, a renaissance is very expensive, but you don’t have to force a thing on people who already own it, you just have to make the space for it to show it off – you let it grow from there. If there’s going to be cultural advancement, it’s going to have to come from the people themselves, but they have to be helped.

It’s obvious that the rest of the world loves high African culture – African culture, period. Just look at a festival like WOMADelaide. But when people come to Africa they can’t find it that easily because the African establishment has no interest in celebrating it. Governments in Africa – most governments, in fact – are allergic to this because they don’t want to be upstaged. And it’s to the benefit of international industry that the people of Africa remain an underclass – so they won’t take ownership of the raw materials themselves. But if Africans recapture their culture they will naturally gravitate towards recapturing the continent. If they know more of who they are, they might not be willing to be so subservient.

It’s not just Africa’s problem; most of the world now has disappeared into laptops and iPhones and iPads. People think think that when they have these gadgets they are advancing.

Technology keeps changing the world, but music doesn’t change, it’s only 12 notes and six chords and it’ll always be that. It’s how they’re juggled that makes great music and great musicians study that, whether it’s Palestrina or Bach or Fela [Kuti]. But if you’re into the dark glasses and chicks with their asses in the air and in your face … I don’t know how much of it is music.

People talk to me about the rise of hip hop in Africa, too, but nothing that mechanical will last. The people look alike, and they’re wearing the same outfits, and they’re singing variations or rapping variations of the same thing. And yet the Hawaiians and the Indians sing variations of the same scales, but in there are beautiful songs, beautiful melodies. Anything that comes organically from people, musically, is what will last for ever. But what depends on a machine will always depend upon a machine. Until a bigger machine comes.

Blog Excerpt

“Day 2 of WOMADelaide began with a talk from Hugh Masekela at the Speakers Corner stage. This is Caspar Llewellyn Smith again.

I’d actually bumped into the 73-year old last night, and asked whether he’d ever met Archie Shepp, the radical late 60s saxophonist, simply because I’ve been listening to his oeuvre recently. And of course Masekela had: “I knew Archie well … I never liked his music.” That led to a discussion about his close friend Miles Davis, which included a great Miles impersonation and the view that Miles lost the plot when he ventured into that Sly Stone/ Stockhausen thing of his in the early 70s. “I told him I’d come see him play again when he started playing music again.”

On this Saturday morning, in a front of a crowd desperately fanning themselves in the sticky heat, he was at it again, a little bit, casually mentioning his friendship with Bob Marley, for instance. But he can’t help it if he’s known and worked with several of the greats, because he is one himself, and a measure of that was his insistence here, talking of politics, that “the ordinary person is the hero of every society. In a place like South Africa, the real heroes are the unknown people”.

It was also a delight to hear Masekela talk about the importance to him of his school geography lessons: “we learnt how to draw the outline of every country, their physical features .. their products, their climate” etc, which, he complained doesn’t happen any more. It meant that when he left South Africa after the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and started his peripatetic existence that continues to this day – he has homes in South Africa, Ghana and California, though as he told me “I live in airports and hotels and festivals” – nowhere he went felt foreign to him.

“I don’t recognise borders,” he told the audience, but talked about the vital cultural traditions of Africa. “If there were no Africans in America, it wouldn’t be the place it is today – they’d still be wearing white wigs. Without Louis Armstrong, they’d still be walking straight, without a dip in their hip.” (Masekela, of course, once knew Armstrong too.)”

Assupol Township Tour Postponed


House of Masekela
Press Release

Johannesburg, South Africa — Due to unpredictable circumstances, Semopa Entertainment, Assupol and Hilltop Live regret to inform that the Hugh Masekela performance scheduled for the Soweto Cricket Oval on Sunday 16 December 2012, has been postponed.

The venue’s parking area and adjacent field were the subject of a double booking at municipal level and this administrative misfortune has caused us to reconsider the event.

As we do not wish to compromise the safety of our audience and smooth running of our event, we have decided to reschedule the concert for the first weekend in March 2013. (Full details with new lineup to be announced in mid – January 2013).

Any tickets already bought through Computicket will be fully refunded. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused, but we look forward to hosting everyone at the re-scheduled event in 2013.

For further information please contact

PR Manager
Helga Klizanie
084 400 3003


Artist Management
Josh Georgiou
082 881 8565

Assupol Presents Hugh Masekela Live Township Tour

Assupol Presents the Legendary Hugh Masekela’s Township Tour

House Of Masekela
Press Release

Celebrated trumpeter and world-class artist Hugh Masekela will, this December, bring his music home to the very humble beginnings that shaped his upbringing and gave rise to his musical career.

In partnership with Assupol, one of South Africa’s oldest insurance companies, the award-winning artist will kick off his regional township tour with two concerts, featuring music from his brand new release, “Playing @ Work”, as well as the old favourites that he’s famous for.

On 9 December Masekela kicks off this musical extravaganza at the 3 Square Grounds, Alexandra. This performance marks a very important and sentimental moment in Masekela’s career.

“It fills my heart with such heavy emotion to be taking my music back to where it started. There’s a lot of historical significance to this. Music was the life and soul of the townships. It gave people hope and an avenue to express themselves and address socio-political ills of the time. Music was everything,” says Masekela.

Although he was born in Witbank, Bra Hugh spent his formative years in Alex, and this is where he discovered his love for music and began his association with Archbishop Trevor Huddleston. After 50 years touring the world’s stages, Sun 9 December will mark the first time that this international icon has performed in his childhood stomping ground. It will be a momentous occasion indeed.

Following the Alex performance, Masekela will move on to Soweto, where he will perform at the historic Soweto Cricket Oval in Rockville on Sunday 16 December.

Assupol Marketing Executive, Velmah Nzembela says the fact that Masekela’s music still resonates in South Africa and around the world after more than 50 years is a sign of its resilience and his ability to adapt to changing times.

Hugh Masekela’s music and persona serve as bridge between the generation that imbibed mbaqanga and kwela music in yesteryear and the current one that feeds on Afro-pop and African language hip-hop.

Nzembela adds that Assupol sees this collaboration as a beginning of its drive to deepen the brand in communities where its policyholders are found. “What better way to do this than to use the universal language of music by an icon of Masekela’s stature.

Bra Hugh will be joined on stage by two of his protégés at both concerts, namely Pu2Ma and the Complete Vocal Quartet – as well as support artists Condry Ziqubu in Alexandra and Khaya Mahlangu in Soweto.

Both township dates promise to be fun-filled family occasions with proceedings kicking off at 13h00 – and picnic baskets, blankets and dancing under the sun will be the order of the day.

Tickets are R120 presale, and R150 at the gate and are available from Computicket[], Shoprite and Checkers.

This concert is made possible by Assupol and supported by Soweto TV, Alex FM and Jozi FM.


Hugh Masekela at WOMAD 2012

Photography by Christian Sinibaldi

Hugh Masekela Inspires Crowds at WOMAD 2012

The Guardian – Music Blog

Photography by Christian Sinibaldi

> Last night, things were just getting going, with appearances from a handful of folk including Dennis Bovell and New Orleans funk outfit the Soul Rebels, both of whom – absolutely typically – I contrived to miss. But the action gets going in earnest today, with the likes of Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Cliff and – the band I’m most looking forward to – Lo’Jo, who play the Siam Tent at some point gone midnight: so after this Olympics hoohah in London. I hope I’m still awake then.

> 4.40pm: Hi, Caspar here again, retreating into the sanctuary of the backstage area – it’s hot out there. And so far, it’s been inspiring. Hugh Masekela kicked things off on the main stage, and looked very much – dressed all in black – like the coolest 73-year old of all time.

Then he came back to this backstage area, where we filmed him giving a solo performance of Louis Armstrong’s Rockin’ Chair. Masekela met Armstrong when he was studying at the Manhattan School of Music in New York in the early 60s, after he left South Africa following the Sharpeville Massacre. So to have him give me a little hug before out filming was slightly mind blowing. We should have the results of that filming on the site early next week.

Someone else asked Masekela about he’d like the crowd at Womad to take away about South Africa from his performance here. “I don’t go on stage for South Africa, I go on stage for the audience,” he said. “All the rest is bullshit.”

> 6.06pm: And this is Robin Denselow. I didn’t make the first Womad, but I’ve been lucky enough to get to most of them over the past 30 years…and this has started off as a suitably impressive birthday celebration, though perhaps without a really massive ‘must see’ act one might have expected (though the new Robert Plant band, who I saw in London a couple of weeks back will make suitably impressive headliners on Sunday night).

So far we’ve had a solidly impressive opening set from the great Hugh Masekela, who has already been seen in London this year playing at Back2Black, Paul Simon’s Graceland, and River of Music. As ever he mixed South African township and jazz influences, and was in great form playing and singing solo backstage. He has long been a great horn player, but his voice is getting better and better.

WOMAD was once dominated by African bands, but this year the music really is global – and with a greater emphasis on Asia and the Far East. Narasirato from the Solomon Islands in the Pacific came on wearing body paint and not a great deal else, and managed to update the sound of that much maligned instrument, the pan-pipes. There were seven players performing on different bamboo flutes, and even two of the percussionists were bashing at bamboo. It worked, because of their slick, energetic and rhythmic playing – though they could have done with a little more variety in their full-tilt set.