Legendary singer Dorothy Masuka dies at 83

Dorothy Masuka at 60

Dorothy Masuka was one of the great South African jazz singers of the 1950s. Together with Dolly Rathebe and Miriam Makeba she became an iconic singer and writer of memorable tunes like Pata Pata, Kwawuleza and Into Yam. Many of her songs were recorded by artists like Makeba.

“ Her music was the soundtrack of some our most joyful moments, the light of or souls during our darkest hours” said Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s Arts & Culture minister following her death.

Masuka had been suffering from complications related to hypertension, after having a mild stroke in 2018. One of her last stage performances was at Winnie Mandela’s funeral in that same year.

Go Go Suffering

Dorothy Masuka was born in 1935 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Her parents migrated to South Africa when she was 12 years old. Despite her parents’ disapproval, Masuka dropped out of school at 16 to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer.

She signed a deal to record with Troubadour Records and after a spell with the African Ink Spots she left for Zimbabwe to join The Golden Rhythm Crooners. But she was soon on her way back to Johannesburg and in the train she penned ‘Hamba Hamba Nontsokolo’ loosely translated as ‘go, go suffering’.

The song became her biggest hit and one of the most popular songs of the 1950s. It is regarded as an African classic and remains her signature tune to this day. By 1953, when she was 18, Masuka was already a fully fledged professional musician and, along with Makeba and Hugh Masekela, she toured with Alf Herbert’s African Jazz & Variety Show and with the musical King Kong.

She also performed with the Harlem Swingsters in the mid-1950s and endeared herself to a wide audience with her provocative compositions that riled the apartheid regime. In 1961, the Special Branch seized the master recordings of her composition ‘Lumumba’ which paid tribute to Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Congo. She also dared to write a political song about the then Prime Minister Dr Malan and was exiled for over 30 years. In Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and the UK Masuka campaigned for the liberation of SA through her music.

After many years working as a flight attendant for Zambian Airways, she returned to South Africa at the beginning of the 1990’s. A few years later she was a recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga Silver from the SA government. Dorothy Masuka was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in the US in 2002.

source; The Sowetan/The Herald -Kyle Zeeman

see also

Dorothy Masuka -60 years and counting

South African Soul Divas pt 2 Dorothy Masuka, Mahotella Queens, Irene & The Sweet Melodians

South African Soul Divas pt 3 Dolly Rathebe, Mabel Mafuya, Nancy Jacobs, Eva Madison

African Jazz & Variety -Alfred Herbert 1952

Old Routes New Routes 2019 -World festival Amsterdam

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From Saturday 5 January 2019, the second edition of Old Root New Routes will start with a festive New Year’s Concert in Amsterdam in the Amstel Church by Karima el Fillali with members of the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra.

This second edition of Old Roots New Routes again offers space for a new ‘underground’ with a series of concerts of remarkable semi-acoustic music companies. They are rooted in Africa, the Maghreb, the Middle East and South America and have blossomed in the Dutch clay in recent years. 

Tamala

Tamala, one of the performing groups blends Senegalese musical heritage with Western modern influences. Surely one of my favorites, a concert not to miss….

Tamala
Travelers between North and South

Barely one year old the group Tamala won two prestigious prizes for their debut album plus a performance at the famous British WOMAD Festival. The passionate trio brings an innovative repertoire, which propagates the Senegalese musical heritage and feeds on the eclectic input of Mola Sylla, Bao Sissoko and Wouter Vandenabeele. The texts of Tamala (‘traveler’ in Mandinka) are about personal questions, poetic journeys and a call to openness to others and respect for the environment. Tamala takes you on a journey where the sounds of violin and kora merge, and where Sylla’s voice is the guide that reveals the deepest of the soul.

Musicians:
Bao Sissoko (kora), Mola Sylla (vocals, xalam), Wouter Vandenabeele (violin)

Ticket sales for the concerts have now started. 

early 20th century Senegal portraits by Mama Casset

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Dakar ca 1950-1960. Photo Mama Casset, studio African Photo. Courtesy Revue Noire

The history of Senegalese photography begins in Saint-Louis du Sénégal, capital of the French Sudan, with the first African photographers who began their trade in the studios originally operated by white Europeans.
The African pioneers gave a less exotic, more modern and prosperous image of their fellow citizens, away from the typical western imagery.

This unique exhibition includes thirty images taken in Saint Louis by the earliest African photographers like Mama Casset whose name is less known by the Western public than that of Seydou Keita.

see the exposition The elegant Senegal of the first half of the 20th century , until 26th August 2018.  Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid Spain

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Saint Louis ca 1930, anonymous. Photograph courtesy Revue Noire

MAMA CASSET
AND THE PRECURSORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN SENEGAL

In 1870, in Saint-Louis, the former capital of Senegal, Meissa Gueye, Doudou Diop, Mama Casset and others photographed the bourgeoisie and the Senegalese people. In 1940, in Dakar, Mama Casset set up her new studio “African Photo” and became the undisputed master of the portrait, creating the stereotypes of the pose in the studio, often used in painting and studio photography across the continent. One of the first African masters of photography.


Mama Casset, born in 1908, died in 1992 after a life spent first in Saint-Louis-du-Senegal and then in Dakar, in the Medina.

Initiated to the photography of the time of the colonization by the French Oscar Lataque, he will be enlisted in the French army to make aerial photographs. In the 1940s, he set up his studio, “African Photo”, in the Medina, to become the fashionable photographer of Dakar.

more on Revue Noire

PORTFOLIO ‘MAMA CASSET STUDIO AFRICAN PHOTO’

an exclusive limited edition of 20 copies as box set containing 10 original photographs is for sale here

Lost Dreams; Grande Hotel Beira, Mozambique

In one of the grandest hotels in the world, born of and to luxury, today you enter ‘at own risk’. More than 2500 people live there without water or electricity. They have taken possession of the building and manipulated not only the stones but also the dreams. A journey through present and past of a city in a city; a story about colonial megalomania, revolutionary vanity and feeling at home.

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The Grande Hotel Beira was a luxurious hotel in Beira, Mozambique built by entrepreneur Arthur Brandão. It was open from 1954 to 1964, after which the holiday resort was used as military base and prison in the Mozambican Civil War. It has since fallen into disuse, and is currently home to numerous squatters, who have stripped the building of construction materials to provide a limited source of income.

Its failure wasn’t completely because of the revolution or government rule but the construction and maintenance costs were too high and they didn’t receive enough guests because of more affordable and better located competition.

In 1964, after ten years of operation, the Grande Hotel was closed by the Companhia de Moçambique. The construction costs were three times more than the original budget, and the hotel never made any profit. The anticipated number of wealthy guests never came and the workforce was too large for the amount of guests actually received. Every elevator, for example, had its own operator present. The hotel needed a lot of maintenance to keep it in its luxurious condition.

Listen to Kumbe Siyengetile [Mozambique] – Francis Baloyi, Sangaan Band

See also this Belgian documentary by  Lotte Stoops filmed in Beira, Mozambique in 2010. Winner of the Biarritz International Festival of Audiovisual Programming 2012

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In several documents it was claimed that the reason for closure was the refusal of the regime to grant the hotel a casino permit. Any realistic estimation would have predicted the failure of the hotel. The white residents of Southern Africa couldn’t afford this level of luxury and Beira was not known, internationally, as a prime holiday destination for wealthy people. Destinations like the Bazaruto archipelago at Vilanculos, the Mediterranean city life style of the Mozambican capital Lourenço Marques, the South African Krüger national park and the Victoria Falls in Rhodesia where more famous across the world.

A cheaper alternative to the Grande Hotel was the Ambassador Hotel. This hotel opened just after the inauguration of the Grande Hotel and was preferred by business people because it was situated in the Baixa (downtown) area, where most of the business offices were located. Remarkably, Arthur Brandão was also the owner of this hotel.

Basa Basa ‘Homowo’ aka Basa Basa Experience ‘Together We Win’ -Ghana

Basa Basa Homowo -1979 Nigerian Holy Grail. Now available as a 2018 reissue by Vintage Voudou, The Netherlands, with extensive liner notes and fold-out poster

Soul Safari

Originally released in 1979 in Nigeria this album remains one of the highly prized ‘holy grails’ of African music. Basa Basa Experience ‎– Together We Win Label: Take Your Choice Records (TYC) ‎– TYC 115-L

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see also previous post Piliso -Thumela -rare Afrobeat from South Africa 1983

Both albums by Piliso and Basa Basa Experience ‎were produced by Themba Matebese, a member of Nigerian band T-Fire. Other members are Igo Chico, Kenneth Okulolo, Lekan Animashaun, Mike Collins, Tobahoun Abalo, Tunde Williams.  In T-Fire Themba Matebese was responsible for the vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion as well as for the composition of most of their songs. He also wrote  ‘African Soul Power’, the standout track on ‘Together We Win’. The album got repressed on Peach River Records in Holland in 1983 under a new title ‘Homowo’, the group name was shortened to Basa Basa.

Liner notes; Basa Basa is a highlife band, the nuclues being the Nyaka Twins from…

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Hugh Masekela (1939-2018) South Africa’s godfather of jazz, has died

Hugh Masekela, South African trumpeter, has died after battle with prostate cancer -photo Bra Hugh (AP Photo-Jeff Christensen)
photo Bra Hugh (AP Photo-Jeff Christensen)

Legendary South African trumpeter and anti-apartheid movement figure, Hugh Masekela has died at aged 78, after a battle with prostate cancer, according to his family and the government.

Born on April 4, 1939, Masekela first picked up a trumpet after seeing the film “Young Man With a Horn” and encouraged by activist Father Trevor Huddleston. Often described as the “father of South African jazz”, Masekela was an icon of South Africa’s Sophiatown, the political and cultural enclave of Johannesburg that was razed by apartheid police but remains a symbol of black freedom.

read more 

 ‘Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ is probably one of the most impressive excursions of a jazz trumpeter into the deep heartlands of Africa; Hugh Masekela meets Nigerian band Hedzoleh Soundz.

After his big hit success with ‘Grazing in the grass’,  which went to #1 in both the pop and R&B charts in 1968, Masekela joined his former wife Miriam Makeba in Guinea, Africa for a tour. It was there that he met the Ghanian band Hedzoleh Soundz, an extremely talented band known for blending the ancient rhythmic traditions of their native Ghana with American jazz and Latin music.

At the time Fela Kuti was taking Africa and the world by storm with his brand of Nigerian Jazz Funk.  The interlocking rhythms over which his saxophone could endlessly groove were reminiscent of the style of funk patterns that James Brown pioneered in the U.S.

Hedzoleh Soundz combines the rhythmic traditions of their native Ghana while Masekela adds the improvisational drive of jazz. The album ‘Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria in 1973 and features such tracks as ‘Languta’, an irresistible chunk of infectious Afro beat with an inspired Masekela singing and blowing on top.

‘Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz’ -Languta

Masekela introducing Hedzoleh Soundz

players:

  • Hugh Masekela – Trumpet & Vocals
  • Stanley Kwesi Todd – Electric Bass & Vocals
  • James Kwaku Morton – Congas & Vocals
  • Nat “Leepuma” Hammond – Congas, Flute & Vocals
  • Richard Neesai “Jagger” Botchway – Guitar
  • Isaac Asante – Talking Drum, Percussion & Vocals
  • Samuel Nortey – Percussion & Vocals
  • Acheampong Welbeck – Drums

tracks;

  1. Languta
  2. Kaa Ye Oya
  3. Adade
  4. Yei Baa Gbe Wolo
  5. Patience
  6. When
  7. Nye Tamo Ame
  8. Rekpete

Blue Thumb Chisa BTS 62 USA

Buy the original album here

Best African music finds 2017 #7 -Farafina –Bolomakoté Burkina Faso

farafina-en-tunisieone post a day for the remainder of 2017 featuring a selection of some of my best finds of African music last year…not necessary brand new releases. Mostly vintage original pressings found during my travels all over the world.

#7 Farafina ‎– Bolomakoté

veraBra Records ‎– veraBra No. Germany 1989

 

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Farafina is a group of percussionists / dancers from Burkina Faso in West Africa, founded orginally by Mahama Konaté.

Excellent workouts on traditional African instruments like the balafon and djembé are recorded on this album, one of the standout tracks of ‘Bolomakoté’ is the track “Moroman Wouele”, an amazing rhythm journey with hypnotic chants! The track starts seductively like a North African belly dance morphing gradually into a faster samba rhythm. The latin theme re-appears even stronger on the B-side….dance-floor friendly album for sure.

Farafina’s ability to expand their music without denying their traditional instruments has enabled them to experience new forms and record with musicians such as Jon Hassell, the Rolling Stones, Ryuichi Sakamato, Daniel Lanois, Billy Cobham, Joji Hirota….

In 1988 Farafina worked together with Jon Hassell on an ambient/experimental album ‘Flash Of The Spirit’. The group played several times at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and stole the show at the famous Nelson Mandela’s birthday concert in the London Wembley Stadium.

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A1 Moroman Wouele 4:22

A2 Bolomakoté Mahama 3:42

A3 Mandela 3:06

A4 Nianiae Lomina 4:54

A5 Kodine 5:08

B1 Samba 4:20

B2 Patron Mousso (Instrumental) 5:40

B3 Goulikanairi Ye 2:53

B4 Kabouroudibi 6:23

 

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Credits

Balafon – Baba Diara, Mahama Konaté

Djembé – Paco Yé Adama

Flute – Soungalo Coulibaly

Lead Vocals – Mahama Konaté, Paco Yé Adama, Soungalo Coulibaly

Maracas – Souleyname Sanou, Soungalo Coulibaly

Percussion [Bara] – Beh Palm, Baba Ouatara

Percussion [Doudoum’ba] – Baba Diara

Percussion [Doudoum’ni] – Souleyname Sanou, Tiawara Keita

Talking Drum – Tiawara Keita