Border design

Hugh Masekela & Boss Selection


Hugh Masekela & Boss Selection’s Soulful Collaboration ‘One Of These Days’

Boss Selection is the California-based producer & songwriter Sunny Levine. Previous work with the likes of Pete Yorn, Scarlett Johansson, and Ariel Pink have cemented his reputation as a producer-to-watch. Levine is currently preparing the release of Volume One, a 13-track album that explores the different shades of Boss Selection’s soulful beatwork through multiple collaborations.

For “One Of These Days,” Boss Selection enlists South African legend Hugh Masekela to lay down some warm vocals over a hypnotizing track built on piano and synthesizer flourishes.

“Hugh is, and always has been, ‘Uncle Hugh’ to me—he and my dad have been friends since 1964,” Boss Selection explains over e-mail.

“I so badly wanted him on this record but knew it would be a bit tricky because of his touring schedule. I then found out he was going to be in town and started to get something ready. My dad had some piano chords that he sent me over an email, I took them, flipped them and made it into a cool little track.”

“I then figure that I wouldn’t really have the time to sit and write a tune with Hugh so I got into character and tried to write my very best “fake Hugh lyrics” and phrased it how I thought he would sing it. I sang it in his voice (and accent) to act as a demo. Hugh, with my Dad, met me at the studio the next day and he thought he was just gonna play a little trumpet and be done. But, then I told him I wrote the whole song for him to sing. I played it for him and he smiled all big and mischievous, “Sunny, you stole my shit. I’m gonna sing the shit out of it, then I’m gonna sue you…”

“He did sing the shit out of it, played some horns, and was out of there in an hour and a half. I got lucky that the tune worked so well. It’s one of those moments where you feel like you know what you’re doing, and you’re in full command of your abilities. But let’s not get carried away. I just got lucky that day.”

Boss Selection’s Volume One, featuring collaborations with Rashida Jones, Brenda Russell, Orelia, Pete Yorn and more, will be out tomorrow.

Hear the track

Photograph by Abby Ross

Hugh on Hair


by Hugh Masekela
Heritage Day

Chris Rock, the African American comedy megastar, movie actor, and film director recently decided on doing serious research about hair following a plea from his young daughters.

They dreamt of wearing “good hair” because of peer pressure from schoolmates and neighbourhood friends who had ceased to don their natural hairstyles. Their mates and buddies were now rocking Indian, Brazilian, Peruvian and European weaves, wigs or chemically transformed locks, even plastic and horsehair.

A seemingly dazed Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” documentary went on to become an international box-office success in theatres around the world. African people’s hair has always been a universal issue of major intrigue and an amazing psychological jigsaw puzzle regarding their identity, image, self-esteem and heritage.

My maternal grandfather was a devious mining engineer from Scotland who married our Ndebele grandmother at the beginning of the 20th century. My mother therefore emerged as a “mixed-breed”, a “Mulatto”, a “Coloured” person with straight hair; in the Witbank-Emalahleni location of Kwa-Guqa inside Mpumalanga province where I was born.

My three younger sisters were “blessed” with semi-straight hair. Most of my mother’s light-skinned relatives had similar varieties of “good hair”. My own hair pursued that of our father’s texture and variety although it retains up to this day a slight softness inherited from mother’s side.

Dad was Karanga/Pedi and therefore not easily acceptable to many of my mom’s “Kleuring” relatives. In the townships, we were “Maasbigir”, “Amperbaas”. As a child I was subjected to regular mention of my mop as being “Kaffirhare”(Kaffir-hair). “Korrelkop”(Maize cob-row head), “Hottentotmat” (Khoi San [aboriginal South Africans] mat) and other derogatory terms associated with indigenous coifs. Such words came from my Afrikaans-speaking granny (when it was appropriate) when her “Oorlams” (Dutch-rooted) relations, many of whom were Ndebele and Pedi would say to her “Haai Joanna maar die kind het lelike hare, wragtig!”. I began to realize right then that the criticism of my people’s hair quality has subconsciously instilled in them a deep measure of embarrassment and shame over what sat on their heads.

When the apartheid regime came into power in 1948, it was romantically sentimental about treating and classifying the Afrikaans-speaking “Coloureds” as officially superior to us “natives”. Of exploiting tribalism, institutionalizing ethnic-grouping and establishing legal racism based on white supremacy. Not that the structures did not exist before or during colonial times. Only now they were administrative law, enshrined to an absurd level of constitutionalized slavery. Within all the ensuing racist insanity, those indigenous people who wished to acquire ”Coloured” status because of its “half-white” privileges straightened their hair with the aid of hot-combs, creating a putrid smell in the air, torturing the nostrils but guaranteeing the wearers success in the apartheid regime’s “comb-test”.

This examination ensured that if the comb did not get stuck in the hair but rolled smoothly over the head, then the examinee lawfully became a “Coloured”. The utter absurdity of it all still boggles the mind. Many women took the “cliff-dive” into hot-comb hair-straightening, skin-lightening and passing for identities as far removed as possible from African – or as Europeans loved to call us “Kaffirs” – regardless of how dark skinned they were. It caused deep pity inside my young soul to observe a people so ashamed their beginnings. It still does. How lethal the severe sword of oppression!? When I entered my late teens, I began to realize that African people were successfully being manipulated into believing not only that they were inferior to Europeans, Asians and Coloureds, but also that their own hair texture and its quality had to be perceived as unmanageable, uncivilized, primitive and backward. To be socially acceptable, Africans had now to contemplate upgrading the feel of their tresses to a level closer to that of real “Coloureds” (there were many fake ones), Asians and Europeans. Hair industries in the USA, Caribbean and South America emerged to exploit the hundred-and something-years-old inferiority complex of most people of African origin about their “nappy heads”. Ironically, one of the foremost pioneers of “soft” hair for so-called “Blacks” was a Madam Jackson, an African-American who went on to become a multi-millionaire from her transformatory initiatives early in the 20th century.

Shortly before I left South Africa in 1960 to study music in abroad, the hair straightening, wig-manufacturing and skin-lightening industries were taking root in Africa. Many women destroyed their beautiful faces, which often got badly burnt by the creams. The burns are called “chubabas” in Southern Africa.

In Central Africa; because of the hot humid weather, men and women turn yellow from the applications. In my African travels, I’ve seen some outrageous spectacles!!!

The most comical portrait that comes to mind is that of Ghana’s first independence cabinet of Kwame Nkurumah in 1957 where everyone is resplendent in traditional Kente-weave costumes with all the wives proudly sporting sparkling Indian-style wigs. I am pained whenever I view that portrait. I try to imagine the wives of a European country’s cabinet or female soldiers in Asian armies wearing African short hair wigs and I am really tempted to chuckle but the laughable probability rather saddens me instead.

Especially that Kwame Nkrumah is supposedly one the fathers of Pan-Africanism, (May Robert Sobukwe and Steve Bantu Bikos spirits rest in peace) the portrait blows my mind.

To watch the Royal Reed ceremonies of KwaZulu and Swaziland with the young maidens in traditional threads, tall reeds in hand, fills one with so much admiration for the regalia, the music and the dances. However on realising that the majority of the heads are crowned with black, blonde, platinum and rainbow-coloured wigs and tresses, I tend to cringe with overwhelming amazement. Are the Kings really admiring the headdresses??

When I arrived in New York City, I could not find a barbershop in Harlem that would afford me a haircut. Almost all “Negro” men’s heads were wrapped in straightened, chemicalised “Hairdos”. They would inform me that only very young “Negro” boys wore natural hairstyles aside from Sidney Poitier, Malcolm X, Ossie Davis, Harry Belafonte, Martin Luther King, (and most of his team); footballer Jim Brown and a small minority of prominent African males. Very few “Negroes” of the era wanted to be associated with the continent of their roots. “Ya’ll, got fruits and vegetables in Africa?? I’m an American; I ain’t no African, man!! I’m a Negro!!” They would assure me of this fact in dismissive, agitated and angry tone of voice.

Miriam Makeba, Odetta, Abbey Lincoln, Cecily Tyson, Maya Angelou and few others who wore their hair natural then; were deemed to be strange women. People who were doing the opposite considered “Own natural hair” as almost bordering on terrorism, paganism and extremism; they felt threatened by the look.

Most whites viewed it as typical examples of cheeky, troublemaking “Nigras”.

To me, this negative disposition felt like arrogant censure and negation of my heritage’s exceptional history and its glorious contribution to human knowledge in several fields of the arts, sciences and philosophy.

With the emergence of “Black Power” revolution spearheaded by Stokely Carmichael in 1967 finally tearing down American white racist stereotypes about African peoples, many former “Negroes” began to wear dashiki shirts with “headmops” that became known as “Afros” or just “Froes”.

For a while, the African diaspora was captivated by a new pride over their naturalness. Alex Haley’s “Roots” television hit series in the mid-1970’s tracing his family history back to ancient Gambia in West Africa was a massive international smash and powerful stimulant. It caused African traditional couture to gain a large following around the world. However, the euphoria was not to last long. By the 1980’s, the return to Western and Asian wigs and extensions pointed to a U-turn from what had seemed like beginnings of an ultimate African renaissance.

Today, African women the world over spend tens of billions in dollars to acquire Brazilian, Indian, Chinese and Peruvian locks, many from heads of the dead. From a traditional perspective, the practice is macabre and ghoulish.

Skin lighteners are back in full force. The new fads and fashions are a vilification and denigration of centuries old African tradition and heritage. I am thrilled by the welcome discovery of scores of African hairstyles that are possible because the tresses are, malleable enough to sculpt into dazzling looks in all colours. On the other hand European and Asian hair only hangs downward unless fastened and clipped with all manner of pins and needles. It seems to lay so strangely on African molded features.

From my viewpoint, manipulation of African people to look down upon their natural beauty and their subsequent exploitation by international skin-lightening cream, hair extension and wig retailers is truly a tragic return to the thinking that was prevalent during my childhood, teenage and coming-of-age days when we had to listen to talk of “Kaffirhare”, “Korrelkoppe”, “Hottentotmatte”, “nappy heads”, “plantation cotton-pickin ‘Nigger’ Looks” and all other terms that mock our origins. Today we use glossier and smarter words today but they still remain demeaning.

I have registered the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation to (i) attempt restoring back into our lives knowledge of our historic past and researching the genealogy of every family. Also to (ii) interview every aged person 85years and older so as to capture whatever memories, wisdoms and ancient know-how they might still be able to recall. All the information will be preserved and stored in databases for access to our past.

(iii)To encourage the relearning of mother tongues, poetry, praises and literature for present and future generations to possess as a mirror against consumption by other cultures, (iv) To revive artisanship study in the areas of indigenous manufacture of household goods to elevate the study of carpentry, construction, weaving, linen manufacture, design, stone-masonry, mosaic, art, traditional music, dance and sport. Hopefully, this initiative will aid us to gradually cut down on our blatant consumership of foreign goods and cultures, subsequently turning us into a seller society instead of the buyers that we are today.

In view of all I have stated above, it would be hypocritical of me to appear in photos with people donning foreign wigs, chemically–altered hairdos, extensions, Asian, European, and South American extensions except in cases where if I refuse could result in my imprisonment, deportation or demise.

In conclusion, I do not wish to stop anybody from the choices they make or the cultures they want to serve themselves as fodder for. I am only begging not to be forced to join the dive of the lemmings or sheep over the cliff. As you can surmise by now, I have personally had a very depressing hair life. Today and everyday these days appears to be a “bad hair” day. Painfullest is to watch government officials, “celebrities”, prominent women in business, media, sports, religion and education wearing these devices with so much deep pride, aplomb and joy; especially the old grannies who are at an age where at which nobody is “looking” anymore. I’m surprised to see people of the African female community who look like themselves in newspapers, magazines, journals, television, theatre and concerts. It is as rare a sighting as seeing an albatross.

Many employment establishments will not have them. We are living a “bad hair” life. Welcome to another “bad hair” day.

I hope that the next time I mention hair, people will try to seriously consider the afore-mentioned history before getting their feathers ruffled.

“I Don’t Bite My Tongue in this Book”


Hugh Masekela Signs with Jacana for the Local Release of His “Lost” Memoir

Books Live

Jazz legend Hugh Masekela was in the Jacana Media offices this afternoon to sign the contract for the local publication of his memoir, Still Grazing, which came out internationally in 2004 but was never released in South Africa.

Masekela said he believes South African society has become complacent since the time of Steve Biko and other young intellectuals of the apartheid era, and hopes that his book can stand as an example of the forthrightness needed to turn the country around.

“In 1990, when all the apartheid laws were dropped, we were probably one of the most intelligent societies in the world,” he said. “Since then, I think we have become dumbed down, not by freedom itself but by the hype that we are free now.

“I don’t bite my tongue in this book,” he said, adding to Impey: “I hope you have some bail money for me …”

“We’ll sell loads of copies of the book, and use that money,” she joked.

The book was first released in 2004, but disappeared more or less without a trace, much to the consternation of Masekela’s fans.

“The way it came to South Africa, which is the only country where it went out of print, is because when I was signed to Sony Records, the head of Sony at the time was smart enough to agree to buy a whole consignment from Random House, and I twisted Exclusive Books’ arm to bring it into the country,” Masekela explained. “So they brought in a limited amount, but you can’t find it now anywhere. In the States, they just put it out there, they didn’t do anything else. So it’s one of the world’s biggest secrets outside of South Africa – and in South Africa.

“But no matter where we go, people ask ‘Where can I buy the book? I’ve tried Amazon, I’ve tried Mississippi, I’ve tried the Nile River …’

“So we’re happy that Jacana elected to release it.”

Masekela is currently writing an update to the book, as the original version ended in 2002. However, he explained how a large chunk was recently stolen from a train – in Europe.

“I had about 56 pages of what I’ve been writing,” he said. “But I just came back yesterday from a European tour, and we were on a train after a concert in Frankfurt, in first class, eight of us, and we were very relaxed – this was a luxury train – but when we got to Paris my suitcase was not there. I got very homesick right away,” he joked.

“I lost 56 pages, my expensive pairs of shoes, three of my favourite ties, my lint remover – the things I miss most!

“So my advice to you is when you travel, don’t use an expensive suitcase. This is what I discovered after 60 years of travelling.”

Despite the setback, Jacana MD Bridget Impey is confident of a late October publication date.

All copies of the first print run will include Masekela’s latest CD, Playing @ Work.

About the book

Hugh Masekela is a prodigiously talented giant of jazz and world music, and a pioneer in sharing the voice and spirit of South Africa with the rest of the world, but his globetrotting tale transcends music.

First published in the USA in 2004, this autobiography shares with rich detail Masekela’s life, infused with love and loss, sex and drugs, exile and revolution. He survived it all, with wit, passion, abundant talent and wisdom, and is now bringing his story back home!

A new foreword and afterword to his autobiography will add fresh insights into the life of one of today’s few living world-class artists and rare spirits.

Still Grazing narrates a magical journey around the world in this epic, music-soaked tale of love, excess, exile and home.

Masekela’s life began in a South Africa haunted by violence, but redeemed by the consolations of family, music and adventure. As the grip of apartheid tightened, he was driven into exile and embarked on what would become a 30-year pilgrimage around the world. His first stop was New York City, where he was adopted by legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Harry Belafonte. Masekela lived through some of the most vital and colourful music scenes of our time: blowing with bebop greats in New York, playing with a young Bob Marley in Jamaica, hanging out with Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone in the 60s, and getting lost in the madness of Fela’s Afropop explosion in Lagos. He loved extravagantly, and was married to Miriam Makeba for some time, experimented wildly with drugs and alcohol, and stumbled into adventure after adventure. And through the hit musical Sarafina (which he conceived with Mbongeni Ngema), the Graceland tour he spearheaded with Paul Simon, and his fearless on-the-ground activism, he worked tirelessly to add his voice to the anti-apartheid movement. When he eventually returned to South Africa, he at last found the strength to confront the personal demons that had tracked him around the world, and attained a new measure of peace at home.

Unfolding against the backbeat of the most revolutionary musical movements of the last forty years and one of the most inspiring political transformations of the twentieth century, this is the utterly engrossing and deeply effecting chronicle of a remarkable, one-of-a-kind life.

Hugh Masekela wins at Jazz FM Awards

Photograph: Don’t Shoot Yourself (UK) Ltd

The second Jazz FM Awards, in partnership with Serious, took place tonight at the Great Halls at Vinopolis, London Bridge, establishing itself as the most prestigious accolade for jazz.

The night, hosted by actor and The Fast Show’s ‘Jazz Club’ Louis Balfour, John Thomson, featured stunning performances from PPL Lifetime Achievement winner Hugh Masekela who performed with Larry Willis, a beautiful tribute from Rebecca Ferguson, celebrating the centenary of Billie Holiday, and the House Gospel Choir. A surprise performance of the night came from Soul Artist Of The Year winner Jarrod Lawson. A wealth of talent was in attendance and celebrated with the winners with eleven awards being presented on the night recognising distinction and commending those that have made an exceptional contribution to Jazz, Blues and Soul.

Gregory Porter took his second Jazz FM award win with International Jazz Artist of the Year. The ‘Liquid Spirit’ singer successfully crossed over with his 2014 album recently reaching no.9 in the UK charts. The charming baritone is already widely regarded as one of the finest singers of his time, despite having only come to prominence in recent years. As a gospel, blues, jazz and soul singer in one package, he successfully saw off competition from drummer Antonio Sanchez, who wrote the soundtrack to the Oscar winning motion picture ‘Birdman’, and the powerhouse fusion-band Snarky Puppy.

Snarky Puppy’s pianist Bill Laurance won the Breakthrough Act award, having received widespread success and critical acclaim for his highly anticipated album ‘Swift’. Delivered with more classical leanings than the straightforward funk of Snarky Puppy, Laurance successfully demonstrates how deep groove and classical sensibility can sit happily side by side.

World-renowned multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, composer and singer Hugh Masekela was commended with the PPL Lifetime Achievement Award for both his outstanding contribution to music globally and as an incredibly important political voice. The South African artist who was a pillar of the anti-apartheid movement and has worked with every jazz legend imaginable commented:

“Over the past 45 years, England and particularly London has been a principal centre in my developmental journey to the place I have ultimately reached today in my life as a musician. Jazz FM has been a prime centre of support for me since its inception. It is therefore a humbling and highly fulfilling privilege for me to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award. I thank all who have supported me on an often difficult but ultimately joyous voyage which has brought me thus far down this musical highway.’

Jarrod Lawson won Soul Artist Of The Year. An impressive feat having gone up against the renowned D’Angelo and ‘the first daughter of soul’ Lalah Hathaway. The blue-eyed soul boy’s meteoric rise to fame saw him playing two sold out shows at the Jazz Cafe on his first visit to the UK. With a virtuosic talent on the piano and an ability to groove like the legends he takes much inspiration from, Lawson is one of the biggest soul-jazz sensations in years. Jarrod gave a surprise performance at the awards with his rendition of Leon Russell’s ‘A Song For You’.

Manchester three piece GoGo Penguin collected the gong for the public voted award, Jazz Act Of The Year. The band, made up of pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka, and drummer Rob Turner, saw their profile raised after being nominated for a Mercury Award last year. GoGo Penguin’s hard-hitting jazz-meets-electronica was up against the London based Sons Of Kemet and Polar Bear for the award.

Son Of Kemet did not walk away completely empty handed as Instrumentalist Of The Year went to their incomparable bandleader and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. The innovative saxophonist went up against pianist Alexander Hawkins and trumpeter Laura Jurd for the award.

Vocalist Of The Year was an all female affair with nominations including Lauren Kinsella and Alice Zawadzki, with the award ultimately going to the much deserving Zara McFarlane. The MOBO award winning artist’s second album ‘If You Knew Her’ (released in 2014) was a sublime blend of neo-soul infused with her jazz heritage, allowing her to show her skill for fantastic song writing and flair for jazz improv.

Best Album (chosen by public vote) went to Dianne Reeves for her spectacular album ‘Beautiful Life’ which showcases her sublime ability to blur the lines between R&B, latin, pop and jazz. The album features an all-star cast including Esperanza Spalding and Richard Bona, vocalists Gregory Porter and Lalah Hathaway, pianists Robert Glasper and Gerald Clayton and Reeves’ cousin and frequent longtime collaborator, the late great George Duke.

Best Live Experience (chosen by public vote) was awarded to Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival ‘ the group’s first show in 24 years. The 21-piece band featured an all-star cast including keyboardist Django Bates, saxophonists Mark Lockheart (Polar Bear) and Iain Ballamy (Food), the irrepressible trombonist and charismatic MC Ashley Slater (Freak Power, Kitten and the Hip) plus trumpeter Chris Batchelor (Big Air). The pioneering act who were at their most productive in the 80s inspired a generation of musicians, and their set of classics and new commissions alike had fans on their feet for a standing ovation at Cheltenham.

The Innovation Award went to Jason Moran who has been constantly pushing the boundaries of the genre and challenging the ideas of what it is to experience jazz in the live arena. Since his emergence on the music scene in the late 90s, the jazz pianist has collaborated with dancers, skateboarders, artists, actors and varied ensembles. As a recording artist he has established himself as a risk-taker and innovator in almost every category; improvisation, composition, group concept, repertoire, technique and experimentation. In 2014 Jason successfully took his first step into scoring a major feature film with the Oscar Winning Selma.

New Orleans icon and rock and roll hall of famer Dr. John was recognized with the Blues Artist Of The Year Award. The six-time Grammy Award winner is a bona fide legend whose 2014 and 2015 world tours included sold-out shows throughout the U.S. and Europe.

The Jazz FM Awards 2015 is a partnership between Jazz FM and Serious and was made possible with the support of Aberdeen Asset Management, Audemus Spirits, CityJet, Conrad London St. James, Denbies Wine Estate, Mishcon De Reya, PPL, Taylor’s Port, Vinopolis, Voss, 7digital and Yamaha Music.

images/stories/jazz fm awards-8.jpg

Photograph: Don't Shoot Yourself (UK) Ltd
Photograph: Don’t Shoot Yourself (UK) Ltd

Full list of WINNERS (and nominees) for the Jazz FM Awards 2015:

Album of the Year (Public vote):

WINNER: Dianne Reeves (‘Beautiful Life’)

Nominees: Ambrose Akinmusire (‘The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint’), D’Angelo (‘Black Messiah’), Chris Potter Underground Orchestra (‘Imaginary Cities’), Polar Bear (‘In Each and Every One’), Troyka (‘Ornithophobia’)

Live Experience of the Year, sponsored by 7digital (Public Vote):

WINNER: Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Nominees: Blue Note 75th Birthday at EFG London Jazz Festival, Jamie Cullum at Love Supreme Jazz Festival

UK Jazz Act of the Year sponsored by Yamaha Music (Public Vote):

WINNER: GoGo Penguin

Nominees: Polar Bear, Sons of Kemet

Breakthrough Act, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management:

WINNER: Bill Laurance

Nominees: GoGo Penguin, Peter Edwards

Instrumentalist of the Year:

WINNER: Shabaka Hutchings

Nominees: Alex Hawkins, Laura Jurd

Vocalist of the Year, sponsored by CityJet:

WINNER: Zara McFarlane

Nominees: Alice Zawadzki, Lauren Kinsella

Jazz Innovation of the Year, sponsored by Mishcon de Reya:

WINNER: Jason Moran

Nominees: Henry Threadgill, Theo Croker

International Jazz Artist of the Year, sponsored by Taylor’s Port:

WINNER: Gregory Porter

Nominees: Snarky Puppy, Antonio Sanchez

Blues Artist of the Year:


Nominees: Otis Taylor, Valerie June

Soul Artist of the Year, sponsored by Conrad London St. James:

WINNER: Jarrod Lawson

Nominees: D’Angelo, Lalah Hathaway

PPL Lifetime Achievement:

Hugh Masekela

In Africa We Are All the Same


New Vision
Steven Odeke

South African legendary jazz artiste Hugh Masekela jetted into the country Monday night ahead of the “Jazz It With Airtel” concert slated for Friday at Kampala Serena Hotel.

The jazz concert to also mark 20 years of Uganda’s saxophonist Isaiah Katumwa in the music industry will offer Masekela his second performance in the country, since 10 years ago.

“The last time I was in Uganda, I had a great time and wondered why I never came back. Was it about something I said?” he joked, at the press briefing held on Tuesday at Serena.

The jazz stars pose for a photo with representatives of the event sponsors

“Uganda is a beautiful country and having this kind of collaboration with musicians like Katumwa helps us bridge boundaries in Africa.

“We are the same in Africa. We are a product of Africa and we need to start thinking about our children and ensure they retain their African heritage.

“The problem we have now is indigenous phobia that was created into us by people who are not even participating in our fights. We need to recognise that we are fighting for boarders that that are less than 200 years ago and were not created by us. We had great kingdoms that have since disappeared,” he said.

Katumwa was grateful for the opportunity to perform alongside Masekela and vowed to deliver a performance that will meet the expectations.

“There is reason I am African and I think such moment take us to our roots. You could not talk about jazz 20 years ago in Uganda but today here we are. I am happy for this.”

The show, sponsored by Airtel, Pepsi, International University Of East Africa and Serena, is expected to start at 7:00pm and take attendees through a rollercoaster of jazz music.

Masekela, a multi-instrumentalist and singer is regarded as one of the greatest jazz artistes from Africa and is famous for songs like “Market Place,” “Coal Train” and “Run No More.”

Zimbabwe – Bra Hugh in Epic Performance

The Herald

South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela lived up to his billing and left the crowd crying out for more at an epic performance at the 7 Arts Theatre in Harare last Saturday night as he dished out some of his yesteryear hits that have anchored his legacy.There is no doubt that Bra Hugh as he has grown to be known over the years is in a league of his own, but the only undoing of the brilliant show was perhaps the small cosmopolitan but appreciative crowd at the up market venue.

While jazz music has a distinct following of the mature discerning music lovers, the entry charges of between $80 and $120 must have definitely affected the turnout considering the prevailing economic conditions.

The jazz maestro trumpeted his way onto the stage with the popular song Sossie and that set the scene for the evening as he took the audience through a musical journey that featured most of his great hits including “Stimela”, “Khawuleza”, “Happy Mama”, “Lady and Thanayi”.

Dressed in all back, the 76-year old jazz master was in good spirits, having received a doctorate in music from Rhodes University the previous day and jokingly said that he had been sent by South African students to bring back the remains of Cecil John Rhodes who was interred at Matopos.

Bra Hugh was saying this in apparent reference to the ongoing campaign to remove or destroy colonial-era monuments down south. While commending the youth for their activism, he said there were more pressing issues that needed tackling.

The night of jazz organised by Ngoma Nehosho also featured Victor Kunonga and the Peace Band whose presence on stage was very brief and a spirited performance by award winning afro pop ensemble Mokoomba.

The energy and vibe of lead vocalist Mathias Muzaza left the crowd in awe as they churned hit after hit bringing out some distinct sound that could easily be mistaken to be West African or some other modern day genre.

There is just something about the Mokoomba outfit that hails from the banks of the Zambezi River and the international flair that they have managed to bring to the group. They are definitely in a league of their own and their professionalism raises the Zimbabwe flag high.

Back to Bra Hugh, besides dazzling the audience with his trumpet, his versatility as a percussionist was striking on stage alongside the other four members of his group, especially for those familiar with his music. Forget about the language barrier, everyone was singing along to some of the lyrics with the Cape Tonian flair and even some of the empty seats were a blessing in disguise as people danced on without anyone complaining about blocking their view.

Considering that the jazz maestro has a significant following in this country that he claims to be his origins, the organisers should perhaps in future consider making him more accessible through lower cover charges and accessible venues.

It was not surprising that shortly after 11 pm many left 7 Arts grumbling that the show had “prematurely” ended as some sought alternative venues to wind down the night.

Bra Hugh is great and that does not take a jazz connoisseur to convince anyone, but even good things should be shared.

“Then give up colonial lifestyles”

rhodes statue cropped

The Herald
Zandile Mbabela

Photograph by Eugene Coetzee
Photograph by Eugene Coetzee

Trumpeting his views: If African people were so concerned about colonialism they would have to give up their largely colonial lifestyles, jazz legend Hugh Masekela said when he was presented with an honorary doctorate in music at Rhodes University in Grahamstown yesterday. Masekela was commenting on the current campaign to remove or destroy colonial-era monuments. He commended the youth for their activism, but said there were more pressing issues that needed tackling.

Jazz maestro Hugh Masekela criticised the campaign to destroy and have removed all remnants of colonialism, saying if African people were so concerned about it they would have to give up their largely colonial lifestyles.

Masekela – who received his fourth honorary doctorate, from Rhodes University, last night – said while he was encouraged by seeing young people stand for something, there were far more pressing issues needing energy and attention.

“If we were really concerned about colonisation, we would be walking around naked {because} clothes are a colonial thing and our entire lifestyles are colonial,” he said.

“In this country, a woman is raped every few minutes, we have crime, corruption, and a country that is fast turning into a rubbish dump. There are so many things to worry about.

“I’m encouraged that the born-free generation that has always been seen to be complacent is now standing up for something, but I wish that the same energy would be put into the other pressing issues as well.”

In his acceptance speech at the 1820 Settlers Monument in Grahamstown yesterday, Masekela said people did not realise just how entrenched the colonial culture was.

“We are so absorbed in other cultures that we do not realise that we spend billions of dollars on colonially introduced things.

“We do not realise we spend billions on other people’s hair,” he said, to awkward laughter.

The musician appears opposed to hair extensions and will not consent to photographs with people with fake hair. He dedicated the doctor of music degree to his late father, Thomas Selema Masekela, who did not have a degree and marvelled at those who did, including his wife who had three.

“One of my father’s biggest wishes was to have a degree, so this is for you, Selema,” he said.

Masekela jets off to Zimbabwe today for the start of a tour.

He treated graduation attendees to a rendition of a song by his ex-wife, the late Miriam Makeba, with Rhodes student Lonwabo Mafani on keyboard.

Rhodes gives Hugh Masekela an honorary doctorate

Photograph by Nikita Ramkissoon

Times Live

Photograph by Nikita Ramkissoon

Jazz icon Hugh Masekela will receive an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University Thursday 9th April.

The university said Masekela was “without doubt one of South Africa’s most successful artists and his influence on world music has been nothing short of phenomenal”.

“The university is ideally placed to acknowledge Masekela’s unique appreciation of the struggles of ordinary people in their movement between town and country‚” spokesman Zamuxolo Matiwana said.

“It is located in the Eastern Cape‚ the source of the migrant labour depicted in his Stimela song‚ an area that forcibly or otherwise recruited labour for the urban centres of South Africa for at least two centuries.

“Awarding Masekela an honorary doctorate recognises both his inestimable contribution to South African music and its place in the world. It also contributes significantly to the vision of making International Library of African Music at Rhodes‚ a living monument to African musical accomplishment of which Masekela is one of the most formidable examples.”

The university will also award honorary doctorates to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela‚ art expert David Koloane and former Vice-Chancellor Dr Saleem Badat on Friday‚ while on Saturday‚ welfare activist Professor Francie Lund will receive an honorary doctorate.

Lund is most well known for chairing The Lund Committee of Enquiry on Child and Family Support in 1995‚ which led to the establishment of the Child Support Grant in 1998.

She also led major research initiatives‚ including a landmark project in the 1980s which attempted to map the scale of inequity in welfare provision‚ particularly in the Eastern Cape‚ and the deficit in provision between the previous “white” South African system of welfare and the appalling provision of welfare for blacks located in the “Bantustans” such as Transkei and Ciskei.

Fourth International Jazz Day


UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock Announce Fourth Annual International Jazz Day


Press Release

Performance and outreach programs to take place worldwide on April 30, recognizing jazz music as a universal language of freedom.

International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert in Global Host City Paris, France, will be a highlight of UNESCO’s 70th Anniversary Celebration

Paris and Washington, D.C. – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock are pleased to announce the fourth annual International Jazz Day, which will be celebrated around the world on April 30, 2015. Paris, France has been selected to serve as the 2015 Global Host City. Presented each year on April 30th in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, International Jazz Day encourages and highlights the power of jazz as a force for freedom and creativity, promoting intercultural dialogue through respect and understanding, uniting people from all corners of the globe. The celebration is recognized on the official calendars of both UNESCO and the United Nations, and this year will be a significant part of UNESCO’s 70th Anniversary celebration.

According to Director-General Bokova, “Jazz means dialogue, reaching out to others, bringing everyone on board. It means respecting the human rights and dignity of every woman and man, no matter their background. It means understanding others, letting them speak, listening in the spirit of respect. All this is why we join together to celebrate jazz – this music of freedom is a force for peace, and its messages have never been more vital than they are today, in times of turbulence, in the year when we celebrate the 70th anniversary of UNESCO. This All-Star Concert will be a major moment in a turning point year.”

The 2015 International Jazz Day celebration will kick off in Paris, France on April 30th with a daylong series of jazz education programs, performances, and community outreach. An evening All-Star Global Concert at UNESCO Headquarters will feature stellar performances by Dee Dee Bridgewater, A Bu (China), Igor Butman (Russia), Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Ibrahim Maalouf (Lebanon), Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Marcus Miller, Guillaume Perret (France), Dianne Reeves, Claudio Roditi (Brazil), Wayne Shorter, Dhafer Youssef (Tunisia) and many other internationally acclaimed artists, with further details to be announced shortly. John Beasley will serve as the evening’s Musical Director.

“On April 30th, there will be a worldwide celebration honoring jazz,” said Ambassador Hancock. “Every single country on all seven continents will shine the spotlight on jazz for 24 hours straight, sharing the beauty, passion, and ethics of the music. Educators, visual artists, writers, philosophers, intellectuals, dancers, musicians of all ages and skill levels, photographers, filmmakers, videographers, bloggers and jazz enthusiasts will participate in Jazz Day by openly exchanging ideas through performances, education programs, and other creative endeavors.”

The concert from Paris will be streamed live worldwide via the UNESCO, U.S. Department of State, and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz websites. Daytime events in Paris will include master classes, roundtable discussions, improvisational workshops, and education programs led by world-renowned jazz musicians, educators, and diplomats. In addition to the All-Star Concert, multiple evening concerts and performances will take place across the city of Paris.

Given its legendary place in jazz history, Paris is an ideal choice to serve as the International Jazz Day Global Host City. The city’s major figures in jazz include guitarist Django Reinhardt, vocalists Edith Piaf and Josephine Baker, violinists Jean-Luc Ponty and Stéphane Grappelli, and many more. Today, Paris continues to play an important role in the ongoing development of jazz as a musical art form.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said, “Jazz has always been at home in Paris, a city of culture, music and creativity. I am particularly thrilled that our city will be hosting and welcoming International Jazz Day in 2015, a year which will, I hope, reaffirm the fundamental values of fraternity and solidarity. Paris is honored to welcome the most talented musicians in the world on this day. And I am even more happy that this International Jazz Day will allow Paris to be at the heart of the celebrations of the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO. By emphasizing the educational role of culture, International Jazz Day fully illustrates the objectives and the convictions of this essential organization.”

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is once again working with UNESCO and its field offices, national commissions, networks, Associated Schools, universities and institutes, public radio and public television stations, and NGOs to ensure their involvement and participation in International Jazz Day 2015. Additionally, in countries throughout the world, libraries, schools, universities, performing arts venues, community centers, artists, and arts organizations of all disciplines will be celebrating the day through presentations, concerts, and other jazz-focused programs. As in past years, it is anticipated that programs will be confirmed in all 196 UN and UNESCO member countries and on every continent.

Tom Carter, President of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, said, “We are most grateful to the leadership and citizens of Paris for welcoming and hosting International Jazz Day in their magnificent city. As we approach our 4th celebration, International Jazz Day has become a worldwide movement and global phenomenon. Reaching over 2 billion people through performances and educational programs, we are proud and honored that Jazz Day is celebrated in all UNESCO Member States.”

The designation of International Jazz Day is intended to bring together communities, schools and other groups the world over to celebrate and learn more about the art of jazz, its roots, and its impact. Ultimately, International Jazz Day seeks to foster intercultural dialogue and raise public awareness about the role of jazz music in promoting the universal values of UNESCO’s mandate. As a language of freedom, jazz promotes social inclusion, enhancing understanding and tolerance, and nurturing creativity.

Giants of Africa Headline CTIJF


Tuku, Masekela Billed for Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Showbiz Reporter

Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi and Hugh Masekela, two giants of African music will join forces for a performance at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival taking place from March 27 to 28.

The long-time friends who are bonded by their passion for heritage restoration in Africa and their love for traditional Southern African music will re-interpret some of their best-known songs at the sold out festival.

Tuku, who will first perform in Bulawayo on March 20 before travelling to Cape Town the week after will join South Africa’s Donald, Ringo Madlingozi, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Beatenberg, Madala Kunene, Mahotella Queens, Naima Kay, Sipho Mabuse, Banz Oester and the Rainmakers, Claude Cozens Trio, Courtney Pine (UK), Sons of Kemet (UK) and Dirty Loops (Sweden) among other groups.

Affectionately referred to as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering” the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is the largest music event in sub-Saharan Africa, famous for delivering a star-studded line up. The festival which is held annually on the last weekend of March or the first weekend of April boasts five stages and over 40 artistes performing over two nights.

The festival recognised as the fourth largest jazz festival in the world and the largest jazz festival on the African continent used to be called the Cape Town North Sea Jazz Festival due to its association with the North Sea Festival in the Netherlands.

It has grown since it first started in 2000, and as a result, attendance has also grown from 14, 000 concert goers in 2000 to 40,000 concert goers last year.