The definitive remastered edition of Miriam Makeba’s ‘Pata Pata’

Strut Records presents the definitive remastered edition of Miriam Makeba’s
‘Pata Pata’ for the latest instalment of Strut’s Original Masters album reissue

The all-time classic of South African music, and international breakthrough for
Makeba, has been mastered by The Carvery from the original reel to reel tapes,available in its mono and stereo versions for the first time. Living in exile
in the US after the anti-apartheid film ‘Come Back, Africa’ gained international
attention, she quickly built her career in New York during the ‘60s, mentored by 
Harry Belafonte

After a period with RCA, she revisited to one of her older hits ‘Pata Pata’ with early vocal harmony group The Skylarks. Rerecording this time with producer Jerry Ragovoy, the new version brought a lighter uptempo R’nB arrangement, adding some English lyrics. “It was my first truly big seller,” Makeba recalled “In the discotheques, they invented a new dance called the ‘Pata Pata’ where couples dance apart and then reach out and touch each other. I went to Argentina for a concert, and across South America, they are singing my song.” 

Other songs on the album include a version of the traditional Xhosa classic, ‘Click Song Number One’ (‘Qongqothwane’), the atmospheric ‘West Wind’, later famously covered by her friend Nina Simone, and a version of Tilahun Gessesse’s ‘Yetentu Tizaleny’ which Makeba learned on a trip to Addis to perform for Haile Selassie at the Organisation Of African Unity. 

Physical formats also feature brand new sleeve notes alongside rare photos from the time of recording and session details. 

‘Pata Pata’ is released on 6th September on 2LP, 1CD, streaming and digital.

see also

South African Soul Divas pt 1-Miriam Makeba

South African Soul Divas Pt 4 -The Skylarks

Bongi Makeba

Bongi Makeba (20 December 1950 – 1985) was a South African singer/songwriter. She was the only child of singer Miriam Makeba with her first husband, James Kubay.

Makeba was born in South Africa. She recorded only one solo album, ‘Blow On Wind’ (pläne-records) before she died after a traumatic miscarriage in 1985. She was buried in Conakry, Guinea. Some of her songs could be heard years later in her mother’s repertoire. See and hear mother and daughter together on stage at the North Sea Jazz Festival 1980.

Bongi Makeba ‎– Blow On Wind (pläne ‎– 88234) released in 1980 -her only solo album produced in Germany by Conny Plank.

Bongi Makeba -Sikhumbula (Liberation)

Bongi Makeba -Kilimanjaro

Miriam Makeba left South Africa in 1959, after landing a lead role in the jazz musical King Kong, a tragic story about a boxer, Ezekiel “King Kong” Dlamini. After moving to the US, Bongi started a singing career with Judy White, the daughter of blues singer Josh White. The duo released a few singles in 1967 on American labels under the name Bongi & Judy. Although written and produced by some of the then big names, Bert Keyes and Ashford & Simpson, both singles did not stir up big waves.


With her American husband, Nelson Lee, she made two 7″ records
in the early to mid-1970s that were more successful. “Bongi and Nelson” features two soul tracks arranged by George Butcher: “That’s the Kind of Love” and “I Was So Glad” (France: Syliphone SYL 533) & “Everything For My Love” and “Do You Remember Malcom ” (France: Syliphone SYL 532).

see also my previous posts on Miriam Makeba 

African Jazz & Variety -Alfred Herbert 1952

South African Soul Divas pt 1-Miriam Makeba

King Kong, the first All African Jazz Opera 1956

South African Soul Divas Pt 4 -The Skylarks

Miriam Makeba -Mama Africa- TV docu Mika Kaurismäki

Last night Dutch TV channel The Hour of the Wolf  broadcasted a colorful portrait of Africa’s most famous singer Miriam Makeba . You can watch this documentary in flash or via Microsoft Silverlight.

This documentary gives not only a great visual overview of Makeba’s career but through the many interviews with the singer and guests one can gets a really good impression of the life and circumstances in South Africa before 1994, during Apartheid and Makeba’s struggle against the regime.

Especially the early years of Miriam Makeba are well highlighted; her performances as part of the African Jazz & Variety shows at the City Hall in Johannesburg, her start as a singer with The Manhattan Brothers, her rise and fall in  the USA, living as an exile in Guinea…there is even some rare footage from an unofficial film ‘Come Back Africa’ (1959) by American filmmaker Lionel Rogosin that was smuggled out of the country and contained 2 songs by a very young Makeba. Essential film footage and a treasure to all lovers of the music of  one of South Africa’s greatest singers.

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Or see the flash version.

She married five times, lost her only daughter and lived in exile in the United States, Guinea and Belgium. She was surrounded by President John F. Kennedy, actor Marlon Brando and singer Ella Fitzgerald. She scored an international smash hit with Pata Pata. That precisely this apolitical dance song was so successful made ​​her slightly sad but she was not complaining: “The audience chooses what it wants.”

Makeba was born in a South African township, broke through as a jazz singer and grew under the wing of Harry Belafonte into a musical and political legend. Makeba had enormous presence and never publicly took a mince words: “I do not talk politics, I tell the truth.” In 1963, she said to the United Nations, and became a figurehead of the anti-apartheid struggle in her country. It earned her the nickname Mama Africa and led to thirty years in exile.

In 1990, Nelson Mandela asked her personal “coming home” and return to South Africa. She died in 2008 of a heart attack. This richly documented ode celebrates her unforgettable voice, her charisma and her high-priced idealism.

Director: Mika Kaurismäki
Producer: Starhaus / ZDF

see also my previous posts 

African Jazz & Variety -Alfred Herbert 1952

South African Soul Divas pt 1-Miriam Makeba

King Kong, the first All African Jazz Opera 1956

South African Soul Divas Pt 4 -The Skylarks

see & hear my previous post with MP3 Preview

Township Jive & Kwela Jazz (1940-1960) Available Now!

Soul Safari’s  first compilation featuring 2 rare recordings by Miriam Makeba with The Skylarks & Spokes Mashiyane

 The Skylarks w/ Makeba & Spokes Mashiyane -Ekoneni

 The Skylarks w/ Makeba & Spokes Mashiyane -Inkomo Zodwa

the Zulu Jive of the Manhattan Brothers on 78 rpm

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Two shellac 78’s by the Manhattan Brothers this week  from  my Karoo box. Great music and some rare tunes as well.  Have these ever been released on CD?
The exact date of these releases can’t be traced so I guess that 1950 seems reasonable. The Gallotone Singer disc has been pressed in the UK and predates the other by a few years probably.
The song “Marie”  written in 1929 by Irving Berlin shows that the Manhattan Brothers were also influenced by American showtunes.

Their sound drew on American ragtime, jive, swing, doo-wop, as well as African choral and Zulu harmonies. The group, formed in 1946 in Johannesburg, was very popular in the 1940s and 1950s, during the Apartheid Era. Members of the group included Joe Mogotsi, Ronnie Sehume, Rufus Khoza and the late Nathan Mdledle. Miriam Makeba, who went on to international fame, started her career with The Manhattan Brothers and was part of the group for much of the 1950s.  Even Dolly Rathebe joined the group for national tours and performances.

Recording their first singles in 1948, the group quickly became superstars in their homeland. The Manhattan Brothers were accompanied by the finest musicians in South Africa. Their band, which was led by composer and saxophonist Mackay Davashe, featured saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, drummer General Duze, and pianist Sol Klaaste. The band later added Hugh Masakela and Jonas Gwangwa and was renamed the Jazz Dazzlers.
Joe Mogotsi died on 19 May 2011 in Johannesburg, following a long illness.

*this article contains excerpts from a biography by Craig Harris

South African Soul Divas pt 1-Miriam Makeba

I just came back from Paris where the walls of the city were plastered with posters announcing a 3 day ‘hommage à Miriam Makeba’ at the prestigious Cirque D’Hiver, near the Republique.  Tribute to South Africa’s most important music ambassador will be given by Angelique Kidjo, Asa, Ayo, Sayon Bamba, Dobet Gnahoré and many others on Friday September 25th -Sunday September 27th 2009.


and here’s ‘Sawubona’, the inflight magazine of South African Airways with Makeba on the cover. Finally, a well deserved tribute in her country of birth after so many years in exile  and although Miriam is not longer amongst the living her music lives on to inspire new generations …welcome back!

miriam makeba  -divine diva sa airways cover

there are so many Makeba favourites it is hard to pick one…but ‘Emavungwini’ from 1969 and this live-version of ‘Reza’, written by Brazilian musician Edu Lobo are certainly amongst my favourites.  Miriam Makeba was a singer who sang in many languages;  Xhosa,  Swahili, Portuguese, English… She became world famous after her departure from South Africa when she moved to the United States where her biggest hits were produced.

Miriam Makeba fotohoes cover

Miriam Makeba -Emavungwini

miriam makeba -reza label Miriam Makeba -Reza

Miriam Makeba was the last vocal star to come out of the great era of the 1950’s and in some ways was also the most significant. Recorded on the eve of her departure for the United States, ‘Uile Ngoan’ a Batho’ is a musical re-statement of Miriam Makeba’s ‘Farewell to Africa’ and constitutes a tacit acknowledgement that perhaps many years of exile lay in store.

Miriam Makeba & the Skylarks -uile ngoan’a batho

miriam makeba & The Manhattan Brothers -foto Jim Bailey collection

After a stint as a featured vocalist with The Manhattan Brothers, Miriam formed the Skylarks, her own female close harmony vocal group, then in 1959 toured as the show’s female lead with the theatre production ‘King Kong’ alongside Hugh Masekela, her future husband. Immediately after this triumph at the height of her fame, Miriam left South Africa to become the first international star from the African continent and an early protagonist in the fight against apartheid.

Makeba then travelled to London where she met Harry Belafonte, who assisted her in gaining entry to and fame in the United States. She released many of her most famous hits there including “Pata Pata”, “The Click Song” (“Qongqothwane” in Xhosa), and “Malaika”. In 1966, Makeba received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording together with Harry Belafonte for ’An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba’.

Her marriage to Stokely Carmichael (of the Black Panthers) in 1968 caused controversy in the United States, and her record deals and tours were cancelled. As a result of this, the couple moved to Guinea where Miriam formed the group ‘ Quintette Guineen’ with whom she toured and recorded. One of the best ways to experience the singer is through her live-recordings. This album is certainly one of her better live-recordings and it was recorded at the Palais du Peuple de Conakry (Guinea). Her strong politic views shine through on this superb album that was released on the label Editions Syliphone Conakry (SLP 022)

miriam makeba concert l'appel a l'afrique cover

Miriam Makeba  -U.Shaka

Miriam Makeba -Malcolm X

Miriam Makeba  -kadeya deya

On 9 November 2008, she became ill while taking part in a concert organized to support writer Roberto Saviano in his stand against the Camorra, a mafia-like organisation local to the Region of Campania. The concert was being held in Castel Volturno, near Caserta, Italy. Makeba suffered a heart attack after singing her hit song “Pata Pata”, and was taken to the “Pineta Grande” clinic where doctors were unable to revive her.

miriam makeba -mbube wimoweh cover

Miriam Makeba -Mbube (1959)

just like ‘Pata Pata’ the song ‘Mbube’ is one of the seminal performances of South African musical history. Traditionally the song is about the celebration of the killing of a lion that was later reworked as ‘Wimoweh’ by The Weavers in 1952 and then, taking the melody of the final falsetto, as ‘The Lion sleeps tonight’ by The Tokens in 1961. Both these charted as number one hits in the US and inspired in turn countless reworkings by scores of other artists. It is surely no exaggeration to claim that ‘Mbube’ is now the world’s best known African-originated melody.

Mbube1938 label

Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds -Mbube (1939)

The original version was also enormously popular and sold particularly well in the townships where there was a high concentration of African-owned gramophones but was not really representative of the typical urban performance style of the day. ‘Mbumbe’ was derived from a style of acapella singing which developed among migrant, working class Zulus resident in male hostels. A system of inter-hostel acapella group competitions had precipitated the combination of various indigenous sources with an Afro-American close harmony style that had first been introduced in South Africa in the 1890’s. Solomon Linda, a migrant himself who worked for Gallo Records as a record packer, then pioneered several critical innovations; group uniforms, highly polished but softly executed dance routines and a new variation of four part harmony where a high, usually falsetto lead was set against multiple bass voices.

see this video with rare footage of Miriam Makeba

La voix de l'Afrique Miriam Makeba s'est éteinte - kewego
La voix de l’Afrique Miriam Makeba s’est éteinte – kewego


Excerpts from the original liner notes of ‘From Marabi To Disco’ Gallo SA 1994