Heartfelt Tribute

The Citizen
Kulani Nkuna

SHOW: Tribute To Miriam Makeba – Cape Town International Jazz Festival – At the press conference ahead of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Hugh Masekela waxed poetic about his one-time wife Miriam Makeba.

ARTISTS: Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela, Thandiswa Mazwai, Zolani Mahola

VENUE: Cape Town International Convention Centre

Masekela talked about Makeba’s altruistic efforts dedicated to uplifting the African continent.

Most of this information was unsolicited from the press gallery, but perhaps Masekela felt the need to express Makeba’s influence on this platform as festival revellers might – at the show –have imbibed the nectar of the gods to a degree that made them unable to appreciate the message.

There was impatience in the ranks of partygoers bent on having a good time before the show. Any tribute to Makeba comes with the inherent assumption that there will be jiving amid nostalgic choruses.

The discerning music listener’s curiosity was piqued when the gig was announced. How would the distinct voices of Thandiswa Mazwai and Zolani Mahola (Freshlyground) blend together with that Vusi Mahlasela?

Masekela did not waste any time getting the crowd warmed up with one of his jive hits. In between his own two personal songs he peppered the audience with tidbits about Makeba’s life.

Then he introduced Mahola, Mazwai, and Mahlasela.

Mahlasela started off strumming When You Come Back with backing vocals from Mazwai and Mahola. Mahlasela then turn to Nakupenda Africa, which had revellers on their toes – Sophiatown-swing style.

Mazwai then had a chance to seize centre stage with a resounding performance of Ingoma, which had the audience jumping up and down, toi toi style, while Masekela’s trumpet added energy. Mazwai flexed her vocal chords and found new range during this performance.

Mahola started off the Makeba tribute with Meet Me At The River, sung in her distinct voice.

Mahlasela then tackled the Pata Pata with great voice alteration and control. But it was Mazwai, with African Sunset, who stole the show with a impassioned performance, and when she was done and returned to her backing vocal post, Masekela beckoned her to the front for more.