Posts Tagged ‘Miriam Makeba’

South Africa – Vol. 4

July 9th, 2010 2 comments

The party is almost over. On Sunday, two hands will receive the World Cup trophy and lift it high as confetti sprays out of machines, reminding me that some poor souls will have to clean up the mess.

For South African residents in the seven host cities, it has been a ride. The vibe has been amazing, and the tournament has been very well organised. The special courts that were set up to deal with crime have been in a somnolent state due to inaction. I am sure those bottomless pits of vomit in the European and British media that predicted roaming bands of criminals robbing and raping foreign fans and shooting with AK-47s at the German team will gladly retract their slanderous and ““ yes, I”ll damn well will say it ““ racist propaganda against South Africa.

These unfounded predictions cost South Africa. Fewer people than expected came. We may account for some of the shortfall with reference to the economic crisis. But the vicious propaganda hurt South Africa. Still, the host has answered its critics. The stadiums were built in time, travelling fans were safe from crime and race wars, and the atmosphere was every bit as genial as it was in Germany four years earlier. Of course, crime was controlled only by an immense show of strength by the police, which now knows that with good application and resources it might get a handle on the country”s crime crisis. And one hopes that the government will show the same political will in solving poverty as it did in building stadiums and tossing FIFA”s salad.

South Africa put on a world class show. It could not have been much better, give or take a few transport snafus (Durban airport screwed things up royally on Wednesday). The world”s biggest event was staged in South Africa ““ in Africa! ““ with every bit as much competence and efficiency as it was in Germany four years ago. The impact of this on South Africa”s and Africa”s psyche cannot be underestimated. Likewise, the memory of South Africa”s successful organisation must alter the perception of the country and continent among those who have held images of cliché. The government has shown the political will to show that it can do something extraordinary. It must now show the will to do more extraordinary things: beating poverty and crime chief among these.

Like everybody else who was in the host cities over the past four weeks, I will retain many great memories (some are represented in the collage avove). The country being awash in flags, the sound of the vuvuzelas, the opening goal that sent South Africa into a huge simultaneous orgasm, several trips to the fan park and four games in the stadium, doing the fan walk (not so great in cold and rainy weather; glorious on balmy evenings), Germany beating England and Argentina, my black Germany scarf, K”naan”s Wave your Flag song and Shakira’s Waka Waka, fans in fancy dress (the Dutch fans especially were great), and ““ the happiest of all memories ““ spending a lot of time with Any Minor Dude.

And whoever wins on Sunday, I will have seen the 2010 World Cup winner on their way to becoming champions (Spain against Portugal and Holland against Cameroon).

With all that out of the way, here”s the final batch of South African songs:


Tony Schilder Trio – Gimme Loving (1995).mp3
Robbie Jansen (with Allou April) – Love Song For Forgotten People (1991).mp3
Spirits Rejoice – Shine On (1978).mp3

The great Cape Town saxophonist and singer Robbie Jansen died on July 7 at the age of 61. Some 20-odd years ago I heard Robbie sing the best version of What”s Going On I have ever heard (he recorded it in 2005; I”ve never heard that though). With his gravelly voice, hoarse from smoking cigarettes (containing brown and green stuff), he was a great interpreter of songs. A collection of covers sung by Robbie Jansen could have been a brilliant album. He recorded a couple of Cape jazz albums and contributed to albums by others, usually by playing the sax. He appeared on Dollar Brand”s classic Mannenberg album (the title is a sloppy misrendering of the ghetto”s name; on the LP he and the larte Basil Coezee harmonised on alto sax), and guested on both albums by the great keyboardist Tony Schilder, who himself is in poor health (as, sadly, is his musician son Hilton; the struggling Schilder family can be assisted via this site), as well as with acts such as Tananas, Juluka and the Sons of Table Mountain, with whom he visited Cuba a few years ago. Jansen was the saxophonist of Pacific Express alongside a young Jonathan Butler and then of Spirits Rejoice (the hit Shine On features Paul Peterson, now a producer, on vocals). Janssen may not have been known outside South Africa, perhaps not even much outside Cape Town. But the man was a legend, a cultural icon in a jazz city. A local trade union has called for a street to be named after Jansen. It is a marvellous idea. Indeed, the city should name a whole district after departed local jazz greats.


Hugh Masekela ““ Mama (1996).mp3
Hugh Masekela – Don’t Go Lose It Baby (1984).mp3
Hugh Masekela ““ Grazing In The Grass (1968).mp3

The jazz legend appeared in the opening ceremony of the World Cup (which also featured R Kelly ““ an ill-considered choice for an event in a country with high levels of sexual violence against minors). I was surprised by that; Masekela had taken a very negative stance towards the event, arguing that the money should have been spent on poverty relief. Still, it was good to see the doyen of SA jazz still active and looking good at 71. Featured here are three songs from the man”s long career. On Mama, Masekela sings in his deliciously growling voice. It probably is my favourite Masekela track. Don’t Go Lose It Baby is a blazing jazz-funk track, with some retro-rapping for the “80s nostalgists. Masekela”s joyful Grazing In The Grass, composed by Philemon Hou, topped the US charts in 1968, and is internationally Masekela”s signature song. Dig the cowbells!


Blk Sonshine ““ Building (2000).mp3
Blk Sonshine ““ Born In A Taxi (2000).mp3

It”s difficult to categorise Blk Sonshine. Though an acoustic outfit, Neo Muyanga and Masauko Chipembere have eclectic influences, drawing from kwela, kwaito and reggae as well as from folk, rock and hip hop, with socially conscious lyrics. The rousing Building is a folk-hued, as was their hit song, the gentle and lovely Born In A Taxi. Blk Sonshine are still recording and appearing live. I”ve heard a few songs from their latest album, Good Life. It sounds great (Check the tunes out). Gil Scott-Heron fans will be interested to note that the great man”s flautist Brian Jackson has lately been collaborating with Chipembere, who was born in the US of Malawian parents. And listen to Building: the vocals aren’t a million miles from Scott-Heron’s at his more agitated.  Visit Blk Sonshine at

Blk Sonshine must not be confused with the highly-rated township heavy metal band Blk Jks (for a taste of them, check out the excellent Liberator Magazine blog.


Sipho “˜Hotstix” Mabuse ““ Burn Out (1985).mp3
Burn Out was the big South African hit of 1985. A true dance track from the townships that easily crossed the race divide, as Brenda Fassie”s Weekend Special had done the previous year, at a time when that was still remarkable. It sold half a million copies, an extraordinary figure in South Africa”s small market. Before that, Mabuse had been a member of the influential Afro-funk band Harari, the first black pop group to appear on white TV, in 1979. Mabuse never capitalised on the success of Burn Out to become a big recording star (it took him ten years to release a follow-up album), becoming a successful producer of nascent talent instead.


Miriam Makeba – Ring Bell, Ring Bell (1967).mp3
This series has to feature at least one Makeba song. I suppose most readers will have stocked up on Makeba music after her death in late 2008, but might have missed this lovely song from Mama Afrika”s 1967 Pata Pata LP, released on Frank Sinatra”s Reprise label. Makeba”s life would make for a great TV mini-series; born to a sangoma (similar to a shaman) mother, the beautiful Miriam had success in South Africa and on the London stage (with Todd Matshikiza”s musical King Kong) before going into exile in the US, where she was also unwanted after marrying civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael in 1968. In the interim, she addressed the United Nations on the subject of apartheid, upon which the Pretoria regime revoked her citizenship. Even her last moments were filled with an activist”s spirit: she died after appearing at a concert against organised crime in Italy.


Letta Mbulu ““ Hareje (1973).mp3
Another one of the great South African exiles with King Kong connections, Mbulu made her breakthrough when the jazz great David Axelrod signed her to Capitol Records in 1968, to be produced by him alongside such luminaries as Cannonball Adderley and Lou Rawls. Though the critics loved Mbulu”s albums, the label had no idea how to market her unique Afro-soul sound. After Capitol, she recorded the 1973 Naturally album on Adderley”s Fantasy Records label, from which this track comes. Backing musicians on the album, and on Hareje, included the Crusaders luminaries Wilton Felder, Joe Sample, Stix Hooper and Wayne Henderson. This opened the door for a deal with Herb Alpert”s A&M label, but commercial success continued to elude Mbulu. Still, Quincy Jones liked her, having her sing on the soundtracks to the mini-series Roots and the film The Color Purple. She also sang on Michael Jackson”s Liberian Girl. She returned to South Africa with her husband Caiphus Semenya, an acclaimed musician and producer himself, in 1991.


Four Jacks & A Jill – Master Jack (1968).mp3
This group was at the centre of a beer-fuelled spat I got embroiled in many years ago. I had compiled a pub trivia quiz, and one of the questions concerned South African acts that had ever entered the UK charts. One team of worthies, perennial winners whose dedication to the beer life was amply reflected in their protruding guts, included Four Jacks & A Jill in their answer Their disputation of the fact that Four Jacks & A Jill never bothered the UK charts became rather heated. Alas, I had thought it unnecessary to lug with me all my reference books “” in this case the 8th edition of the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. Ultimately, to keep the peace, the utterly wrong bastards got their point. In return, I marked all their subsequent answers with spiteful strictness. Where my pals went wrong was in confusing the charts: Master Jack failed to chart in Britain but was a Top 20 hit in the US (and a chart-topper in Canada). Although the band comprised four men and a female member, none were called Jack or Jill (the “Jill” was in fact named Glenys Lynne.). The folk-pop group was named after a 1942 movie.


Prime Circle – Lose Tomorrow (2003).mp3
Occasionally I enjoy a bit of alt.rock; I like a bit of Foo Fighters from time to time. So I can see an upside to Germany being reduced to a third-place play-off against Uruguay today: Prime Circle are scheduled to play at Cape Town”s fan park before the game. Having missed out on Freshlyground last week and Blk Sonshine in June (but having caught the excellent electronica outfit Goldfish there), I am looking forward to that. Their Wikipedia entry seems to have been vandalised with insights like “In 1999 the band hadn”t yet formed” and Wildean wit such as “73% of Prime Circle circle [sic] fans are masochists. The other 27% don’t actually listen to the music.” I am delighted to report that my sides have not split.


More South African stuff

The Originals Vol. 20

April 3rd, 2009 6 comments

I failed to realise that the 19th instalment of The Originals last week marked the 100th song to be, erm, covered in the series (remember, the first part included ten songs, part 2 featured six). Since it can be argued that the story of Bitter Sweet Symphony wasn”t really a tale of an original and its cover, we enter the second century of the series with a South African song with a most remarkable history (and pardon the length of the entry; it”s worth reading anyhow, I hope), as well as the originals of the Kingsmen”˜s Louie Louie, Glen Campbell”˜s By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Deep Purple”˜s Hush and the bizarre Tiny Tim”˜s Tip Toe Through The Tulips.


Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – Mbube.mp3
The Weavers – Wimoweh.mp3
Miriam Makeba – The Lion Song (Mbube).mp3
The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight.mp3
Pete Seeger – Wimoweh (live).mp3
Soweto Gospel Choir – Mbube.mp3

mbubeOne of the most foul stories of songwriting theft must be the story of Mbube (the song known more widely as The Lion Sleeps Tonight or Wimoweh), with even the venerable Pete Seeger involved in the deceit; though he comes out of it a lot better than others.

The man who wrote and first recorded it, Solomon Linda, died virtually penniless, having been duped into selling the rights to the song for a pittance to the Italian-born South African record label owner Eric Gallo. Gallo pocketed the royalties of the prodigious South African sales, in return allowing Linda to work in his packing plant. Apart from performing on stage in South Africa, where he was a musical legend in the townships, Linda worked there until his death at 53 in 1962 “” nine years after Seeger and the Weavers had a US #6 hit with it, and a year after The Tokens scored a huge hit with the song in a reworked version. No laws were broken in this deplorable story of plagiarism, but the rules of ethics and common decency certainly were.


Solomon Linda

Mbube was introduced to American music by Pete Seeger, who adapted a fairly faithful version of the song. Still, Seeger didn”t even transcribe the word “uyiMbube” properly, even though he had received a record of the song (from the great music historian Alan Lomax), which had a label stating the title on it. And surely it should have been possible to research a song which sold a 100,000 copies in South Africa, especially if Alan Lomax is your friend, in such a way as not to render “uyiMbube” as “wimoweh”.

Seeger later pleaded ignorance about the intricacies of music publishing, and, to his credit, deeply regretted not insisting firmly enough that Linda be given the songwriting credit. He had sent his initial arrangers”s fee of $1,000 to Linda and insisted that the song”s publishers, TRO, should keep sending royalties to the South African. Apparently they periodically did so, though Linda”s widow had little idea where the money “” hardly riches (about $275 per quarter in the early “90s) “” came from. Some family members say the payments started only in the 1980s. Whatever the case, neither Linda nor Seeger were credited for the song now known as Wimoweh. The credit went to Paul Campbell, a pseudonym used by TRO owner Harry Richmond to copyright the many public-domain folk songs which TRO published.

tokensThe Tokens” version took even greater liberties. But this time nobody could claim ignorance because Miriam Makeba, who grew up with the song, released it in the US in 1960, a year before The Tokens” version was created, as Mbube, or The Lion (mbube means lion). It is fair to say that George David Weiss, who rearranged the song for The Tokens, at their request, should not be denied his songwriter credit (that would be the same Weiss who co-wrote Elvis” Can”t Help Falling In Love with mafia associates and RCA producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore ). Weiss dismantled and restructured the song, turning a very African song into an American novelty pop song. As so often, the future classic was first relegated to the b-side; a disc jockey, not impressed with the a-side, flipped over the single and so created a massive hit.

Peretti and Creatore claimed co-writing credit and the rights to the song, deciding that Mbube was an old African folk song and therefore in the public domain. They might well have thought so in good faith, but a minimum of research would have established the facts, even before the age of Google. Or perhaps not: they pulled the same stunt with Miriam Makeba”s Click Song (the clicking is a distinctive sound in the Xhosa language), which the Tokens released as Bwanina. They got away with that, because Makeba”s number was based on an old folk song. Not so with The Lion Sleeps Tonight, to which Gallo, the record label owner from South Africa, had asserted his US rights in 1952 and then sold it to TRO. A whole lot of wheeling and dealing took place, with the upshot that the credit now included TRO”s fictitious Paul Campbell. Again, Linda was left out in the cold.

It was only at the beginning of the present decade that Linda’s family took legal action, and that only after Richmond, Weiss and the mafia pals started to wrangle about the ownership to the song. Solomon Linda”s family eventually won a settlement which entitles them to future royalties and a lump sum for royalties going back to 1987, largely due to an extensive Rolling Stone exposé by South African one-book wonder novelist Rian Malan. By some estimates, Mbube/Wimoweh/The Lion Sleeps Tonight has accrued royalties in the region of $15 million. Linda”s family initially sued Disney for $1.5 million for the song”s use in The Lion King ““ happily they are now due royalties from other versions. Malan and the family”s lawyers are still trying to find versions of the song against which to claim royalties.

Here’s the kicker: Solomon Linda was quite delighted at the international success of his song; he didn”t realise that he should have received something for it “” even if that something was just an acknowledgment that he wrote the song.

Read the full story of Mbube.
Also recorded by: Karl Denver (1962), Henri Salvador (as Le lion est mort ce soir, 1962), Roger Whittaker (1967), The New Christy Minstrels (1965), Eric Donaldson (1971), Robert John (1972), Dave Newman (1972), Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus (as Rise Jah Jah Children, 1974), Brian Eno (1975), Flying Pickets (1980), Roboterwerke (1981), Tight Fit (1981), The Nylons (1982), Hotline (1984), Sandra Bernhard (1988), They Might Be Giants with Laura Cantrell (as The Guitar [The Lion Sleeps Tonight], 1990), R.E.M. (as The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite, 1993), Nanci Griffith (1993), Lebo M (1994), Steve Forbert (1994), *NSYNC (1997), Helmut Lotti (2000), Laurie Berkner (2000) a.o.

Billy Joe Royal – Hush.mp3
Deep Purple – Hush.mp3

bj-royalIn Volume 19 we looked at Joe South”s original of Rose Garden. South enjoyed chart success himself with Games People Play, and wrote a couple of hits for Billy Joe Royal, including Royal”s signature hit Down In The Boondocks (1965, originally intended for Gene Pitney) and Hush (1967). Royal “” it is his real name “” had a country background, though one influenced by the soul stylings of Sam Cooke and Ray Charles. He performed with the country singer likes of Jerry Reed and George Stevens, but aimed for a pop audience. For a while he succeeded, but when his pop star waned, he successfully crossed back into traditional country. His final pop charts entry, a 1978 version of Under The Boardwalk which peaked at #82, was followed in 1985 by his first country charts entry (Burned Like A Rocket, #10).

Hush was not a big hit for Royal, peaking at #52. But it became the first hit for hairy hard rock legends Deep Purple, in 1968 “” even though initially nitially the group was not really interested in the song. Since then, Hush has been recorded in various styles, most of them taking as their template Deep Purple”s version rather than Royal”s gospel-tinged original which evokes the source of South”s inspiration for the song: a spiritual which included the line “Hush, I thought I heard Jesus calling my name.”

Also recorded by: Johnny Hallyday (as Mal, 1967), I Colours (1968), Merrilee Rush & Turnabouts (1968), The Love Affair (1968), Jimmy Frey (1969), Funky Junction (1973), Deep Purple (1985), Milli Vanilli (1988), Killdozer (1989), Gotthard (1992), Kula Shaker (1997)


richard-berryRichard Berry & The Pharoahs – Louie Louie.mp3
The Kingsmen – Louie Louie.mp3

There are people who like to designate the Kingsmen”s 1963 version of Louie Louie as the first ever punk song. One can see why: it”s production is shambolic, the drummer is rumoured to be swearing in the background, the singer”s diction is non-existence, the modified lyrics were investigated by the FBI for lewdness (the feds found nothing incriminating, not even the line which may or may not have been changed from “it won”t be long me see me love to “stick my finger up the hole of love”), and by the time the song became a hit ““ after a Boston DJ played in a “worst songs ever” type segment “” the band had broken up and toured in two incarnations.


Originally it was a regional hit in 1957 for an R&B singer named Richard Berry, who took inspiration from his namesake Chuck and West Indian music. In essence, it”s a calypso number of a sailor telling the eponymous barman about the girl he loves. It was originally released as a b-side, but quickly gained popularity on the West Coast. It sold 40,000 copies, but after a series of flops Berry momentarily retired from the recording business, selling the rights to Louie Louie for $750. In the meantime, bands continued to include the song in their repertoire. It was a 1961 version by Rockin’ Robin Roberts & the Fabulous Wailers which provided the Kingsmen with the prototype for their cover.

It is said that Louie Louie has been covered at least 1,500 times. It has also woven itself into the fabric of American culture, having been referenced in several movies, as diverse as Animal House and Mr Holland”s Opus. In the terribly underrated 1990 roadtrip film Coupe de Ville, three brothers (including a young Patrick Dempsey) have an impassioned debate about whether Louie Louie is a sea shanty or a song about sex.

Also recorded by: Rockin’ Robin Roberts (1961), Paul Revere & The Raiders (1963), Beach Boys (1963), The Kinks (1964), Joske Harry’s & The King Creoles (1964), Otis Redding (1964), The Invictas (1965), Jan & Dean (1965), The Ventures (1965), The Sandpipers (1966), Swamp Rats (1966), The Ad-Libs (1966), The Sonics (1966), The Troggs (1966), Friar Tuck (1967), The Tams (1968), Toots and the Maytals (1972), Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids (1973), Skid Row (1976), The Flamin’ Groovies (1977), The Clash (live bootleg, 1977), The Kids (1980), Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (1981), Barry White (1981), Stanley Clarke & George Duke (1981), Maureen Tucker (1981), Black Flag (1981), Motörhead (1984), Lyres (1987), The Fat Boys (1988), The Purple Helmets (1988), Young MC (1990), Massimo Riva (as Lui Luigi, 1992), Pow Wow (1992), The Outcasts (1993), Iggy Pop (1993), Robert Plant (1993), The Queers (1994), The Stingray (1996), The Alarm Clocks (2000), Mazeffect (2003), Angel Corpus Christi (2005) a.o.


Nick Lucas – Tip Toe Through The Tulips With Me.mp3
Tiny Tim – Tip Toe Through The Tulips.mp3

nick_lucasWhatever mind-altering substance it was that possessed the record buying public to turn Tiny Tim”s bizarre rendition of Tip-Toe Through The Tulips into an international hit, I want some. Usually a baritone, Tiny Tim sang the old standard in a bizarre falsetto which he had “discovered” by accident when singing along to a song on the radio as a young man in the early “50s. Somehow he built up a loyal cult following with that falsetto shtick, ultimately leading to his novelty hit (possibly aided by his cryranoesque physiognomy) following its performance on the comedy variety show Rowan and Martin”s Laugh-In.

tiny_timBut Tiny Tim, known to his mother as Herbert Khaury, was more than a bit of a court jester. In his real life, which ended in 1996 at the age of 64, he was a serious student of American music history. He didn”t do Tip-Toe as a parody but as a tribute to the song”s original performer, Nick Lucas. Indeed, Lucas sang it at Khoury”s 1969 wedding to one Miss Vicky on Johnny Carson”s Tonight Show (Video of Tiny Tim and Miss Vicky crooning on the show).

Nick Lucas, known in his prime as “The Crooning Troubadour” and later as “the grandfather of the jazz guitar”, topped the charts with the song “” written in 1926 by Joe Burke and Al Dubin “” for ten weeks in 1929 on the back of its inclusion in the early colour film Gold Diggers Of Broadway (video).

Also recorded by: Jean Goldkette (1929), Johnny Marvin (1929), Roy Fox (1929) a.o.


Johnny Rivers – By The Time I Get To Phoenix.mp3
Glen Campbell – By The Time I Get To Phoenix.mp3
Isaac Hayes – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (full ).mp3

jriversJohnny Rivers is mostly remembered as the “60s exponent of rather good rock & roll covers, especially on his Live At The Whiskey A Go Go LP. He was also the owner of the record label which released the music of The 5th Dimension. In that capacity, Rivers gave the budding songwriter Jimmy Webb his first big break, having The 5th Dimension record Webb”s song Up, Up And Away and thereby giving Webb (and the group and the label) a first big hit in 1967. By The Time I Get To Phoenix is another Webb composition, and this one Rivers recorded himself first for his Changes album in 1966 (when Webb was only 19!).

Rivers” version made no impact, nor did a cover by Pat Boone. The guitarist on Boone”s version, however, picked up on the song and released it in 1967. Glen Campbell scored a massive hit with the song, even winning two Grammies for it. In quick succession, Campbell completed a trilogy of geographically-themed songs by Webb, with the gorgeous Wichita Lineman (written especially for Campbell) and the similarly wonderful Galveston.

isaac_hayes_hbsAnother seasoned session musician took Phoenix into a completely different direction (if you will pardon the unintended pun). Isaac Hayes had heard the song, and decided to perform it as the Bar-Keys” guest performer at Memphis” Tiki Club, a soul venue. He started with a spontaneous spoken prologue, explaining in some detail why this man is on his unlikely journey. At first the patrons weren”t sure what Hayes was doing rapping over a repetitive chord loop. After a while, according to Hayes, they started to listen. At the end of the song, he said, there was not a dry eye in the house (“I’m gonna moan now…”). As it appeared on Ike”s 1968 Hot Buttered Soul album, the thing went on for 18 glorious minutes.

Also recorded by: Pat Boone (1967), Floyd Cramer (1967), Vikki Carr (1968), Roger Miller (1968), Andy Williams (1968), Eddy Arnold (1968), Conway Twitty (1968), Marty Robbins (1968), The Lettermen (1968), David Houston (1968), Tony Mottola (1968), Al Wilson (1968), The Main Attraction (1968), King Curtis (1968), Jack Jones (1968), Julius Wechter & Baja Marimba Band (1968), Ace Cannon (1968), Harry Belafonte (1968), Jack Greene (1968), Jim Nabors (1968), John Davidson (1968), Four Tops (1968),  Ray Conniff (1968), Frankie Valli (1968), Larry Carlton (1968), Johnny Mathis (1968), Frank Sinatra (1968), Dean Martin (1968), The Intruders (1968), Bobby Goldsboro (1968), Ray Price (1968), Engelbert Humperdinck (1968), Claude François (as Le temps que j’arrive à Marseille, 1969), A.J. Marshall (1969), Mantovani (1969), José Feliciano (1969), Nat Stuckey (1969), The Mad Lads (1969), William Bell (1969), Young-Holt Unlimited (1969), Erma Franklin (1969), Dorothy Ashby (1969), Nancy Wilson (1969), Wayne McGhie & the Sounds of Joy (1970), Winston Francis (1970), Mongo Santamaría (1970), The Ventures (1970), Wanda Jackson (1970), Fabulous Souls (1971), The Wip (1971), New York City (1973), The Escorts (1973), Susannah McCorkle (1986), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1986), Eric Miller & His Orchestra (1991), Reba McIntyre (1995), Jimmy Webb (1996), Detroit Underground (1997), Heather Myles (2002), Thelma Houston (2007), Maureen McGovern (2008) a.o.


More Originals

Miriam Makeba RIP

November 10th, 2008 2 comments

The South African singing legend Miriam Makeba died last night of a heart attack after performing at an anti-Camorra concert in Italy. She was 76.

In South Africa she will be remembered as the country”s first black female international star and as an ambassador for the struggle against apartheid. While on an overseas tour, during which she came to prominence thanks to the patronage of Harry Belafonte and Steve Allen, the apartheid regime banned her from returning to South Africa and withdrew her citizenship. After a while, Makeba was not much welcome in the USA either on account of her marriage to Black Panthers leader Stokely Carmichael. So she settled in Guinea, governed by her friend Ahmed Sékou Touré, a strongman reviled by many as anti-democratic but regarded among many Africans as a liberator from colonialism. All the while, she spoke out against apartheid, for Africa and for human rights, receiving UN awards in recognition of her advocacy.

She returned to South Africa in 1990, the year of the ANC”s unbanning and Nelson Mandela”s release from prison (indeed, it was Mandela who called her home). Known as Mama Afrika, she continued to record, but she was much more to the nation than a performer. She acted as a moral conscience to the nation.

Her influence on black culture internationally was profound. The black Afro look of the late “60s and early “70s was in large part attributed to Makeba”s model.

Makeba had survived a plane crash and beaten cancer. How anti-climactic that a mundane heart attack should claim her life, and yet, how fitting that she should have died just after coming off stage.

Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata (1956)
Miriam Makeba – The Click Song (1959)
Miriam Makeba – The Lion Song (Mbube) (1960)

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