On South African Freedom Day 2019, The Jazz Café will be celebrating the life and music of world-renowned South African singer and political activist, Miriam Makeba in the company of her original trumpet player, Claude Deppa.
Becoming Miriam Makeba
Makeba was born into a
musical family where she quickly learned traditional African songs and a
broader jazz appreciation through the radio before her first solo performance
at the age of thirteen, when her high school choir sang for King George VI of
She recorded her most famous song ‘Pata Pata’ in 1954 after which her singing career quickly blossomed in South Africa as she made solo records and took on her professional name, Miriam Makeba.
Her career encompassed a broad range of international influences as she toured, performed and hosted long residencies in countries around the world. African songs such as “The Click Song,” a Xhosan wedding tune, and “Wimoweh,” a Zulu lion-hunting song, blended with jazz and other folk styles in a discography that epitomised the concept of ‘world music’ long before Westerners adopted the term to categorise non-western music.
Politics and music
As her popularity grew she became outspoken about the racial injustices in her native country. Witnessing racist policies such as separate black and white audiences, Makeba vowed to sing about the poverty and injustice in South Africa. She attracted international attention by starring in an anti-apartheid film, Come Back, Africa, and married fellow musician and political activist, Hugh Masekela.
She was punished by
the racist apartheid government for her activism by banning her recordings
until 1988. In exile in the US she was treated in a similarly draconian manner
when she later married US black power activist Stokely Carmichael in 1968. U.S.
promoters cancelled concerts and record contracts and American consumers
Makeba became a global icon not just for bringing African music to a Western audience and popularising world music and Afropop (whilst winning a Grammy in the process), but for her role as a civil rights activist, standing vehemently against the Apartheid regime of her home country.
Claude Deppa is one of the most celebrated South African musicians of his generation both in his home country and in the UK. He’s played with legends across a variety of genres from afrobeat with Fela Kuti to jazz with Art Blakey and of course for his work with Miriam Makeba.
Details of the Freedom Day celebration
Venue: The Jazz Café
Date: Freedom Day, 27 April 2019
Tickets: Freedom Day – Miriam Makeba
Lineup: Claude Deppa – trumpet
Clare Hirst – saxes
Andrea Vicari – piano
Dorian Lockett – bass
Jordan Hatfield – drums
Special guest – Ruby Serame, the voice of Ipi Tombi
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