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hugh masekela

Hugh Masekela

b. Hugh Ramopolo Masekela, 4th April 1939, Witbank, South Africa.

d. 23rd January 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Hugh Masekela began singing and playing piano as a child, apparently, influenced by seeing the film 'Young Man With A Horn' at 13.

He started playing trumpet at 14 and played in the Huddleston Jazz Band, which was led by anti-apartheid crusader and group head Trevor Huddleston.

Huddleston was eventually deported, and Masekela co-founded the Merry Makers of Springs along with Jonas Gwangwa.

He later joined Alfred Herbert's Jazz Revue, and played in studio bands backing the popular singers of the day.

Hugh was in the orchestra for the musical 'King Kong,' whose cast included Miriam Makeba.

He was also in the Jazz Epistles with Abdullah Ibrahim, Makaya Ntshoko, Gwanga and Kippie Moeketsi.

Masekela and Makeba, his wife at that time, left South Africa one year before Ibrahim and Sathima Bea Benjamin in 1961.

He was helped by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, John Dankworth and Harry Belafonte.

Hugh studied at the Royal Academy of Music, then the Manhattan School of Music.

During the early '60's, his career too off.

He recorded for MGM, Mercury and Verve, developing his individual African / pop / jazz style.

Hugh moved to California and started his own record label, Chisa.

He recorded several albums there.

The song 'Grazing In The Grass' topped the charts in 1968 and eventually sold four million copies worldwide.

That year he sold out arena's nationwide during his tour, among them Carnegie Hall.

He recorded in the early '70's with Monk Montgomery and the Crusaders.

Masekela changed his musical direction during the '70's.

He traveled to London to play with Nigerian Afrobeat great Fela Kuti and his Africa '70, then came a session with Dudu Pukwana, Eddie Gomez and Ntshoko among others that resulted in his finest jazz / African album, 'Home Is Where The Music Is.'

Masekela toured Guinea with the Ghanian Afropop band Hedzollah Zoundz, then recorded a series of albums with them both in California and Africa with guest stints from The Crusaders, Patti Austin and others.

He alternated between American and Africa, recording a successful pop / dance album with Herb Alpert in the late '70's.

During the '80's, Masekela returned to South Africa.

He visited Zimbabawe and Botswana, and recorded two albums with The Kalahari Band that once more merged jazz-rock, funk and pop.

Masekela was part of Paul Simon's 'Graceland' tour in the mid-'80's, while he continued recording and produced sessions by Makeba.

Hugh passed away from prostate cancer in January 2018.

Real Player


Trumpet African (Mercury 1962)

24 Karat Hits (Verve 1966)

Grrr (Mercury 1966)

The Emancipation of Hugh Masekela (Chisa 1966)

The Promise of a Future (One Way 1968)

Masekela (UNI 1968)

Home Is Where the Music Is (Blue Thumb 1972)

Masekela Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz (Blue Thumb 1973)

I Am Not Afraid (Blue Thumb 1973)

The Boy's Doin' It (Casablanca 1975)

Herb Alpert/Hugh Masekela (Horizon 1977)

Main Event (A & M 1978)

Technobush (Jive 1984)

Waiting for the Rain (Jive 1985)

Tomorrow (Warner 1986)

Uptownship (Jive/Novus 1988)

Hugh Masekela, Vol. 5: The African Collection (ABC/Impulse 1991)

Beatin' Aroun De Bush (Jive/Novus 1992)

Hope (Triloka 1993)

Reconstruction (Motown 1994)

Hugh Masekela & Union of South Africa (Motown 1994)

Stimela (Connoisseur 1994)

Johannasburg (Anansi 1995)

Black to the Future (Sony 1998)

Note of Life (Sony 1999)

Sixty (Shanachie 2000)

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