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

Kipper the Cat Show -Township South African 78s radio show

township-78-artwork

listen to this radio show with some truly rare South African 78’s like Black Duke & Peter Makana’s  “Baboon Shepherd” as featured on Soul Safari’s last compilation Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 4 LP

On this edition of the Kipper the Cat Show an amazing selection of Township South African 78s can be heard.

The 78s cover roughly a ten year period from about1957 to 1967 (yes they were still making 78s in South Africa then) and amongst others features Kwelas, Sax Jives, and some stunning vocal harmony group records.

The tracks chosen were lovingly selected jointly by the Kipper The Cat team and afrrican Music specialists Lucas Keen and Chris Peckham.

Keep on Bumping in 2017 -South African Disco & Boogie Part 1

 

Keep on Bumping in 2017…

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Syndicate – Keep On Bumping

Scroll to page 18-24 for Soul Gems & Bump Music in this volume of  ‘Hot Stuff’. The story of South African Disco & Boogie Part 1…discover how  soul singer Margaret Singana became known as Lady Africa….read a collector’s story on one of the rarest records by Percy Sledge produced and recorded for a South African movie…and remember why David Thekwane and Patricia Majalisa became household names in South Africa and beyond.

Percy Sledge -Soul Fire 

This post features an extended article on South African Disco & Boogie I wrote for the ‘Hot Stuff’ online magazine. This specialist publication is recommended wholeheartedly, chockablock with  interesting interviews, articles, reviews and memorabilia of the Disco era.

More rare stuff in Part 2 of South African Disco & Boogie to be published soon…

Thank you for being a part of Soul Safari! Just to let you know that Soul Safari appreciates your visit to these pages. May 2017 be a safe, prosperous and healthy year for all of you!

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Township Jive & Kwela Jazz -new Volume 4 (1940-1965)

This is an exclusive offer for readers of Soul Safari!

180 grams vinyl LP edition including Registered Airmail Worlwide € 20

 Payments via PayPal. Fast delivery worldwide!

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 KwelaJazzVol4iTunes

the fourth issue in the series ‘Township Jive & Kwela Jazz’ selected by Soul Safari.

Another outstanding collection of rare gems from the International Library of African Music (ILAM) Archives, South Africa.

Soul Safari presents Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 4 (1940-1965)

Catalog nr. UP 2016.007 LP

Side A
1-Stamkoko -Izintombi Zesi manje manje (1965) 02:16
2-Udali– Maphela  (1960) 02:38
3-Sabela –Maphela  (1960) 02:30
4-Usana Lwam’– Mississippi Brothers & Beauty Diloane (1940) 02:36
5-Ukhiye–Susan  Gabashane & Her Honeybees  (1960) 02:46
6.Ukuhlupheka – Susan Gabashane & Her Honeybees (1960) 02:35
7.Umsakazo E Grahamstown– Alabhama Kids  (1960) 02:27
8.Lizzy–Mississippi Brothers (1940) 02:17
9.Asinamali– Alabhama Kids (1960) 02:21

Side B
1.Baboon Shepherd–Black Duke & Peter Makana (1950) 02:35
2.Battle Of The Flutes–Black Duke & Peter Makana (1950) 02:37
3.Shukuma Duke-Black Duke (1950) 02:27
4.Duke Blues-Black Duke (1950) 03:00
5.Black John–Peter Makana (1950) 02:20
6.Blood Mixture-Peter Makana – (1950) 02:15
7.Egoli Zinyozi –Alfred Dlezi & Dlamini (1950) 02:31

Soul Safari presents Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 4 (1940-1965) -preview

KwelaJazzVol4 LP hoes voor -WATERMARK 2

 the fourth issue in the series ‘Township Jive & Kwela Jazz’

Another outstanding collection of rare gems from the International Library of African Music (ILAM) Archives, South Africa

Soul Safari presents Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 4 (1940-1965)

Catalog nr. UP 2016.007 LP

Available as 180 grams vinyl LP from September 2016

LPhoesdeel4 achter -WATERMARK 2

 

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16 early vocal & jazzy tunes from the Golden Age of Jive & Kwela in South Africa. Released originally on fragile shellac discs only. Shellac is a very delicate material but the music survived thanks to the archives of ILAM. A truly great source of South African music is being preserved here for new generations, to inspire young and hopeful musicians and singers from all over the world.

These pearls of musical genius were recorded in the glory years of jive and kwela, the years 1940-1965 . On side A it is not difficult to recognise the similarities to American popular music like R&B and small combo close harmony singing.

But most of all notice that typical South African swing, that jive, that incredible smooth form of African jazz on side B; Kwela!

The rarest and most treasured finds are collected here, some with the original spoken intro’s, ‘sketches’ as these were called. Characteristic conversations between the musicians, often in a humoristic slang, always extremely funny.

 see also your guide to Cape Town Slang

Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 4 (1940-1965)

Side A
1-Stamkoko -Izintombi Zesi manje manje (1965) 02:16
2-Udali– Maphela  (1960) 02:38
3-Sabela –Maphela  (1960) 02:30
4-Usana Lwam’– Mississippi Brothers & Beauty Diloane (1940) 02:36
5-Ukhiye–Susan  Gabashane & Her Honeybees  (1960) 02:46
6.Ukuhlupheka – Susan Gabashane & Her Honeybees (1960) 02:35
7.Umsakazo E Grahamstown– Alabhama Kids  (1960) 02:27
8.Lizzy–Mississippi Brothers (1940) 02:17
9.Asinamali– Alabhama Kids (1960) 02:21

Side B
1.Baboon Shepherd–Black Duke & Peter Makana (1950) 02:35
2.Battle Of The Flutes–Black Duke & Peter Makana (1950) 02:37
3.Shukuma Duke-Black Duke (1950) 02:27
4.Duke Blues-Black Duke (1950) 03:00
5.Black John–Peter Makana (1950) 02:20
6.Blood Mixture-Peter Makana – (1950) 02:15
7.Egoli Zinyozi –Alfred Dlezi & Dlamini (1950) 02:31

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Township Jive & Kwela Jazz vol 4 (1940-1965) coming soon!

Soul Safari is proud to present a brand new release

Township Jive & Kwela Jazz 4 (1940-1965)

coming soon!

KwelaJazzVol4iTunes

a tribute to Nomzamo Mkhuzo, diva of New Brighton jazz.

nomzamo greeting her fansIt seemed someone had performed a rain dance as the rains came pouring down merciless last sunday. No wonder we were soaking wet when we arrived at the Douglas Ngange Mboba Memorial Hall in New Brighton, a township near Port Elizabeth, thanks to an invite from Diane Thram, who has been researching jazz in New Brighton since 2009.

We had come for an event in honour of singer Nomzamo Mkhuzo (b. 1938), one of South Africa’s grand divas of jazz. And we were among the first to arrive. In two’s and three’s several musicians arrived with their instruments, the soundchecking had begun. Local musicians and singers were expected to come and play for free that afternoon, as a fundraiser for Nomzamo Mkhuzo.

The benefit concert was organized by Vulyewa Luzipho, a vocalist who is a longstanding member of The Jazz Divas aka Metro Jazz Queens, residing in Port Elizabeth. This vocal group started performing in 2004 and is the moniker for the united talents of Shirley Lebakeng, Vulyewa Luzipho, Welakazi (Webro) Mosia and Nomzamo Mkhuzo who was a member until she became too frail. All of these vocalists were present and performed acappella that day – showing of their immense talent as jazz singers.

After a long wait, the concert was opened by keyboard player Jury Ntshinga, who sang a wonderful version of the jazz standard ‘Moody’s Mood’. Vocalist Thandeka Marwanqa joined him to make the rendition even richer.

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Then veteran saxophone player Patrick Pasha came on stage and introduced Nomzamo.He remembered some great moments of his dear friend, how they grew up in houses where church hymns were sung every Sunday. Local songs in Xhosa were popular with the whole family, and records by Ella Fitzgerald were played. ‘She was my biggest influence, I adored her music.’ says Nomzamo Mkhuzo who grew up listening to Ella’s records. Despite the fact that her father thought she was too young, she started her career as a vocalist with the Barnacle Bills Big Band when only 16 years old. Her talent was already apparent, she was born to sing. Nomzamo went on to tour extensively with the Junior Jazzmen throughout the late 50’s. Later she teamed up with her husband, guitarist Jamani Skweyana. They recorded for SABC as the ‘J-J Quartet’. Nomzamo is known for her powerful voice and ability to capture a crowd with the energy she brings to her singing. She was very popular through the 70s and 80s especially for her jazz compositions sung in Xhosa addressing social issues in tunes that embody New Brighton jazz. Nomzamo was a founding member of the Metro Jazz Queens in 2004 and continues to perform occasionally, most recently at her 75th birthday (25 May 2013) hosted by her musician collegues and friends at the Red Location Museum.

Nomzamo is now 78 and although she is frail and confined to a wheelchair, she has lost none of her strenght of voice nor the willpower to perform.

Diane Thram, director of the International Library of African Music (ILAM)  researched the history of jazz vocalists, big bands and what followed on the jazz scene in New Brighton from the 1940s-90s. This project was initiated as part of the ILAM-Red Location oral history project that culminated with curation of the ‘Generations of Jazz’ permanent exhibition at the Red Location Museum in 2013. Nomzamo Mkhuzo was one of the first musicians interviewed. Diane Thram discovered that Nomzamo Mkhuzo was still alive and lived in a rundown small cement house, in poor conditions.  That was back in 2009.  Nomzamo’s singing is documented on 2 concert DVDS created by ILAM from their documentation of two concerts produced as part of the oral history project, the first in March 2010 entitled ‘Jazz Heritage Concert’ and the second for the opening of the ‘Generations of Jazz’ exhibition in June 2013. Nomzamo sings solo and with the Jazz Divas on both DVDs. Locals know Nomzamo – those of her generation have never forgotten her and her powerful voice.  For younger musicians involved in the concerts, it was a discovery of one of the great voices of jazz for which Port Elizabeth is famous. After all, after Cape Town and Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth is famous around the world for its jazz.

Amasiko sang by Nomzamo Mkhuzo at the ILAM/Red Location Museum concert in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth.


And rightly so. Nomzamo’s performance during the concert that day was a gem in the rough the way she can still sing and hit those high notes. When Brown Sugar, a young male vocalist backed by the band Take Note, sang Nomzamo’s composition, ‘Into Zangoku’, Nomzamo joined him to create a duet in which she did a impressive scat – their performance made clear that New Brighton Jazz is still alive and kickin’. Proof of a living jazz heritage. Three generations of jazz musicians and singers were on stage last sunday afternoon. I witnessed three generations of love.

parts of this content is based on Generations of Jazz exhibit catalogue (ILAM 2013)

to obtain copies of the DVD and/or the Generations of Jazz exhibit catalogue contact ilamsales@ru.ac.za or go to www.ru.ac.za/ilam

generations of jazz catalogue