SOUTH AFRICAN MUSIC LEGEND |
The Hugh Masekela story is a long and exciting one: the two times Grammy awarded artist is Africa´s most important jazz and world musician. He has covered the globe and played with just about every top star you can think of. Hugh Masekela wrote a number of international hits and sold several million CDs. He even topped "Jumping Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones with "Grazing in the Grass" in the US charts. Another very popular song of Hugh Masekela called "Bring Him Back Home" became the anthem for Nelson Mandala's world tour following his release from prison. Some of Hugh Masekela´s activities are a while ago ... but he is still making history:
In 2010 he opened both - the Kick off Concert and the opening ceremony of the World Cup in South Africa - a worldwide TV event. His touring schedule was massive and included major festivals and venues like the Carnegie Hall, NY and the Royal Festival Hall in London or the Mela Festival in Oslo, where he performed in front of 80 000 people.
The première of "Celebrate Mama Afrika" in Europe - Hugh Masekela ´s musical tribute to Miriam Makeba - was a huge success. His musical "Songs of Migration" was extremely successful in South Africa and will now also come to Europe and the USA.
In 2011 Hugh Masekela caused maximum surprise when he joined U2 on stage in one of the biggest concerts U2 ever played. More than 98 000 people celebrated Hugh Masekela in Johannesburg when Bono called him to join them on their hit
"I Still haven´t Found What I´m Looking For". Hugh Masekela highlighted another series of festivals all over the world and played the Hollywood Bowl together with Wynton Marsalis. He was awarded by the Etnosur Festival in Spain and received the WOMEX 11 Award for Artists on 30 October in Copenhagen.
Hugh Masekela started 2012 with a concert for Her Majesty The Queen in Westminster Abbey. He toured around the globe with his band, opened the WOMAD festival in the UK in it´s 30iest edition and joined Paul Simon on the Graceland Revival tour.
In 2013 Hugh Masekela will be touring with his band again. A few days in the touring calendar are reserved for the "Hugh Masekela´s Celebrate Mama Afrika" show. And finally he will also be on the road together with Larry Willis, with whom he recorded a 4 CD Box in his recording studio "House of Masekela" in South Africa.
"The man with the horn" is a living legend, a genius musician and great performer who is even getting better in his "old days". And wherever Hugh Masekela plays - no matter if it is a world or jazz or pop festival - no matter in which part of the world - Hugh Masekela and his great band fascinate their audience as they simply play contemporary South African music at it´s best.
Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned flugelhornist, trumpeter, bandleader, composer, singer and defiant political voice who remains deeply connected at home, while his international career sparkles. He was born in the town of Witbank, South Africa in 1939. At the age of 14, the deeply respected advocator of equal rights in South Africa, Father Trevor Huddleston, provided Masekela with a trumpet and, soon after, the Huddleston Jazz Band was formed. Masekela began to hone his, now signature, Afro-Jazz sound in the late 1950s during a period of intense creative collaboration, most notably performing in the 1959 musical King Kong, written by Todd Matshikiza, and, soon thereafter, as a member of the now legendary South African group, the Jazz Epistles (featuring the classic line up of Kippie Moeketsi, Abdullah Ibrahim and Jonas Gwangwa).
In 1960, at the age of 21 he left South Africa to begin what would be 30 years in exile from the land of his birth. On arrival in New York he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music. This coincided with a golden era of jazz music and the young Masekela immersed himself in the New York jazz scene where nightly he watched greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus and Max Roach. Under the tutelage of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, Hugh was encouraged to develop his own unique style, feeding off African rather than American influences – his debut album, released in 1963, was entitled Trumpet Africaine.
In the late 1960s Hugh moved to Los Angeles in the heat of the ‘Summer of Love’, where he was befriended by hippie icons like David Crosby, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. In 1967 Hugh performed at the Monterey Pop Festival alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Who and Jimi Hendrix. In 1968, his instrumental single ‘Grazin’ in the Grass’ went to Number One on the American pop charts and was a worldwide smash, elevating Hugh onto the international stage.
His subsequent solo career has spanned 5 decades, during which time he has released over 40 albums (and been featured on countless more) and has worked with such diverse artists as Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie, The Byrds, Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Herb Alpert, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and the late Miriam Makeba.
In 1990 Hugh returned home, following the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Nelson Mandela – an event anticipated in Hugh’s anti-apartheid anthem ‘Bring Home Nelson Mandela’ (1986) which had been a rallying cry around the world.
In 2004 Masekela published his compelling autobiography, Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela (co-authored with D. Michael Cheers), which Vanity Fair described thus: ‘…you’ll be in awe of the many lives packed into one.’
His story is far from over, and as Bra Hugh approaches his 75th birthday he shows no signs of slowing down. He maintains a busy international tour schedule as his fan base around the world continues to grow.
In June 2010 he opened the FIFA Soccer World Cup Kick-Off Concert to a global audience and performed at the event’s Opening Ceremony in Soweto’s Soccer City. Later that year he created the mesmerizing musical, Songs of Migration with director, James Ngcobo, which drew critical acclaim and played to packed houses. Songs of Migration will visit Amsterdam, London and Washington in October 2012.
In 2010, President Zuma honoured him with the highest order in South Africa: The Order of Ikhamanga, and 2011 saw Masekela receive a Lifetime Achievement award at the WOMEX World Music Expo in Copenhagen. The US Virgin Islands proclaimed ‘Hugh Masekela Day’ in March 2011, not long after Hugh joined U2 on stage during the Johannesburg leg of their 360 World Tour. U2 frontman Bono described meeting and playing with Hugh as one of the highlights of his career.
2012 has already been a busy year with Hugh just returning to South Africa from touring Europe with Paul Simon on the Graceland 25th Anniversary Tour. He has opened his own studio and record label, House of Masekela which has already put out its first release: Friends – a 4 CD collection of jazz standards featuring his dear friend, pianist Larry Willis.
Hugh is currently using his global reach to spread the word about heritage restoration in Africa – a topic that remains very close to his heart.
“My biggest obsession is to show Africans and the world who the people of Africa really are,” Masekela confides – and it’s this commitment to his home continent that has propelled him forward since he first began playing the trumpet.
|sources/copyright: GRIOT GmbH, official artist site |