Online Workshop for Story of South African Jazz V2
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Mama Afrika!!! Musical legacy:

She was a global singer, drawing material from many languages and styles worldwide, Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Guinea … She loves telling stories through song. And that is how she connects with the audience. They hang on to her every word for five decades. She infuses the rhythms with the names of her friend and benefactor Sekou Toure as well as other African leaders, Sobukwe, Kaunda, Gadaffi, Nkrumah ...

 

OAU 1965

A 1965 live recording of Miriam Makeba at the OAU in Ghana was discovered on a large tape reel in a sound engineers home. Mrs Mabel Van Hoogstraten of Robertson in the WC contacted miriammakeba.co.za with news of a reel to reel tape in her possession. Her husband in his capacity as technician set up Ghana's first radio and television station in time for the OAU summit of 1965. It features her composition “Umhome,” a song from Swaziland telling the story of romantic betrayal.

It includes on interview on the radio programme “time for show business,” where she tells some stories of her life and answers the question why she gives so many clicks when she sings! It is her language she exclaims.

In an interview she said:

“This is the fifth time I have accepted an invitation from a head of state to entertain. I was invited to perform in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast. Ghana is the fifth.

“I was one of four children the baby my father died when I was about six years old and his greatest wish was to send me to school to study music. And when I grew up I liked singing and found that I had a natural talent for singing. And when my mother found this out she encouraged me because it was against my father's wish. I sang in church choirs ad at funerals and weddings. When I left school I started joining groups that were singing but not professionally. And then I was heard by the Manhattan Brothers, they are in England now. I joined them for three years. That was when I started singing professionally with them in 1954. I toured Southern and Northern Rhodesia which is now Zambia. We went as far as the Congo. And then I left them to join a musical; review called African Jazz and Variety and this was when I started singing solo. I was seen in this show by an American who had come to Johannesburg to make a music travelogue. But he fell in love with the country and stayed until he decided to make another kind of film, a documentary on a black Africans life in South Africa. I sang two songs on this film which he then smuggled out of the country back to America. He then showed it to many people in show business. One was Steve Allen who had a Sunday Night television show and Belafonte and Max Gordon who owned two nightclubs in Manhattan in New York. They liked the way I sang and asked him to write to me and come to America. I applied for a passport in 1957. I had to beg and beg until I got in 1959 April. I was fortunate that they were still interested in my coming. I left SA to go to Italy as he had entered the film in the Venice Int. film festival so I went to Venice as a representative of Come Back Africa. From there I went to London to wait there for an American visa because I had received two contracts from Steve Allen and Max Gordon. I met Mr Belafonte in England he was taping a show for Christmas on BBC. He had seen the film and came to see it again with me present as they had it showing.

“Mr Belafonte helped me financially when I first went to America. I didn't have written music and musicians. And he saw to it that I got all the things I needed and also gave me his lawyers whenever I needed legal out and then I worked with him and did 7 national tours with him in the US and Canada. And since then we have been very close friends. We did many benefit shows together for the civil rights movement, Dr King and the student non violent coordination committee which they call SNICC. And for the international scholarship fund for the African American institute which gives African students from all over Africa scholarships in the US.”

To the interviewers strange question regarding the clicks she uses in her pronunciation, she said:

“I am sorry that you call it gimmicks this is my language. I am Xhosa and I speak Xhosa and the sound comes from the letter x and q c, r are pronounced as such. We have words like uqcliqe which is a doctor iqandla is an egg, ixoxo is a frog. I don't think of myself as an actress. I like singing. I am comfortable with it.”

Sweden 1966

The 1966 live at BernsSalanger– a baroque restaurant in Stockholm DVD is another gem. Makeba wearing a leopard skin dress fashioned from a skin given to her by Jomo Kenyatta Kenya 1962. Her trio was eclectic, a fusion of world style from American William Salter on upright bass, Brazilian Svauki on accordion and acoustic guitar and Caribbean percussionist Leopoldo Fleming Jnr – they were described as a “tight, glorious, tuxedo clad unit.” “On that glorious night came one of Makeba'smost absorbing performances, stretching her vocal prowess and exploring live stage persona. Sometimes sensitive and shy and then suddenly explosive, fiery and seductive.”

Her amorous growls on the line “I love you my angel” brings out a spontaneous applause of delight from the audience.

Broadcast on Swedish TV in 1967, an 18 year old Ake Holm recorded the soundtrack off his set at home and 35 years later when Miriam Makeba was awarded the Swedish Polar Music Prize - Ake presented her with the CD. The rendition of “The naughty little flea,” a Caribbean ditty references Belafonte, who was in the audience.

Savuki's guitar work adds that Brazilian flare to her classic renditions. And of course the Brazilian music she loves so much, almost exclusively Jorge Ben with Masquenade, Xico da Silva and ChuveChova. She performs with eyes, eyebrows and facial expressions. This stellar band was re-created in 2004 for a live performance at CTIJF included on TV. The original guitar player could not make the show due to health and was replaced by Tony Cedras. The concert is beautifully shot and features the enthusiastic relationship with a packed Rosies stage. Her rendition of One more Dane by CC Carter is received with enjoyment. Some things stay the same the way she shifts her shoulders in the Click Song.

Ake Holm assists her to return to perform Live at the Avo Session in Basel at the age of 75. It is a family affair with granddaughter Zenzi Lee singing and great grandson Lindelani, a ten year old kid playing percussion and taking long solos. The rest of the band is made of a Senegalese guitarist, Cameroonian Bassist, Zimbabwean percussion player.

 

 

In the '66 interview she said: “I left South Africa because there was just no scope for a back entertainer in that there are places reserved only for whites and white entertainers. For instance for many years we were not allowed to drink and therefore we were not allowed to perform in nightclubs where liquor was being served and those nightclubs were only open to white South Africans. In 1958 the government passed a law that no Africans could perform in any of the city halls and so forth. And that is why I left in 1959.”

“We have many protest songs which are banned in South Africa. Many we used to sing in schools like Hayu Ntomana. This song used to be performed in Eisteddfods when schools used to compete. But now it is illegal to sing that song. And many of the songs have been banned from the radio stations in South Africa and the record shops are not allowed to sell the records. My records for instance have been banned since 1962. People who have them have to play them privately and hope that nobody hears them. Even though they are banned there are some people who sing them somehow somewhere. I sing some of them but I find it difficult to sing some of these songs while I am working. I usually find that when [people pay to come and hear an entertainer they usually don't want to be reminded of the ugly things in this world. They get away to come and enjoy themselves. I don't want to hit them on the head with a hammer. I usually try to inject a little message here and there, subtly if I can because not everyone feels the same way I do.”

 

The Miriam Makeba legacy:

Nearly ten years since her death and Miriam Makeba's office in Parktown is still active. Throughout Miriam Makeba's career 1952 – 2008 she kept a tight business and set up an infrastructure and team that could keep the business structured for a full 75 year after her death – the term of her ZM Makeba Trust. The preservation of the archive was also envisaged as “a gift for the future generation,” as Makeba said in her autobiography – My Story.

She learnt from Nina Simone as she was the executor of her will and she saw the way Dolly Rathebe died. In the last years of her life, Dolly Rathebe could not access any of her work. And when she died in 1999 Makeba was her closest friend.

Makeba's company Siyandisa music was formed and was given an initial instruction to recover all her work that was ever released. At the helm of Siyandisa music is Makeba's trusted nephew Dumisani Motha. Dumisani's mother, Makeba's sister was her most trusted ally throughout her life. In the opening chapters of Makeba's book preceding the birth of her sister in Swaziland there is a lightning strike. She travelled between Guinea and South Africa consistently ferrying information backwards and forwards between the two countries. The business has only one share holder, the ZM Makeba Trust which pays out 75% to the trustees and is set up for 75 years after her death. Siyandisa digs into the archives and republishes a lot of material.

Her awards included Woman of the Century Award in Libya and Women of the year in South Africa :In 1975 she won the women of the century award in New York. She won the 1986 Dag Hammarsdal Peace Prize and the UNESCO Grand Prix du Consul International a La Musique. 1988 she received anhonary doctorate from the University of Fort Hare in SA for her “contribution to the unfolding culture of liberation in her birth country.”

Makeba's amazing life journey that took her all over the world is told in her autobiographical book, “My story,” co-written in 1989 with James Hall. Makeba described the book as “an offering that is a gift to the past and the future.” She facilitated Hall to become a Sangoma in Swaziland after the completion of the book.

Makeba's mother was a sangoma, and her late daughter Bongi was thought to have the gift of the ancestors, however died tragically at the age of 34. She left behind two grandchildren, Lumumba and Zenzi Lee. They grew up in Morocco. Spent a lot of time in the states and are now home.

There is sadness about Miriam's relationship with her family that her music catalogue narrates and her business strategy in some way sets out to resolve. From 1977 all the way to her death she made a strong effect to include her offspring in her music business. She encouraged her daughter Bongi to become a singer and sings a co-composition she did with Caiphus Semenya, ‘West Wind' on the 1977 album. Bongi Music enters the publishing business with the track Umoya. Grandson Nelson Lee composes and produces, representing a real attempt for meeting of the minds and generations

Making a difference was a focus of her life. And as much as she is famous for doing this in politics and music, she always showed a desire to do this through business. In her autobiography she tells the story of attempting to start the first black run business in the Bahamas, but failing. She also speaks of her business in Guinea which was a nightclub. Her integration of business and music was a role-model for many younger generation artists. Senegalese Coumba Gowlo's first big hit was a version of “Pata Pata.” And she went on to start a nightclub in Dakar and a record label to take the music worldwide.

Gowlo said, “I really love Miriam Makeba, she's a huge example for us African artists. I am fond of what she is doing and I think we should follow big stars and try to find a way to make a contribution for the world to know about Africa, and what women are capable of doing. I am fighting today for the young people, they are simply our future. If they don't have education, if they don't have a chance to grow into a good condition and become somebody, the future in Africa will be no better than today. You cannot just sing and that is it. In Africa we need help, we need promotion in terms of music, so, it's a way for me to help our country and our continent go further.”

Makeba's choice of including the song ‘Les TroisZ', a apolitical song from Congo by Gerard Madiata was an influence to a young Angelique Kidjo. Les Trois Z stands for the 3 Zs in Congo : Our country, our river, our money.


 

The compositions

The ZM Makeba Trust has built up a repertoire of traditional SA songs rearranged.

Makeba was a prolific performer, but only composed 42 songs. Throughout her career 70% of the songs she sung were South African composers. And of that only 10% were her compositions. She regarded song-writing as an art. The rest of her repertoire is made up of a fascinating collection of composers. She had a penchant for choosing songs that fitted her voice singing compositions from Lennon, Van Morisson and Waldin for example.

 

Early South African compositions:

 

Her primary focus is the songs she learnt at the start of her career in South Africa and singing with the Manhattan Brothers and then the Skylarks.

Malayisha is an early hit. Malayisha is a lumber man with a beautiful strong back. Girls gather round to see how he cuts a tree. It is upbeat with a catchy riff. She sings Maccay Davashe's Kilimanjaro and Lakutshonilanga throughout her career, and renders the Manhattan Brothers Click Song as a hit. She makes the traditional Tanzanian song Malaika her own. Lakutshonilanga was her first big hit for the Manhattan Brothers. The song was re-recorded for the international market in English as Lovely Lies penned by Tom Glazer. The lyrics are hilarious … you tell such lovely lies with your lovely eyes. And the chorus is amusing too, quite sexist – but she does it! In Amampondo by Manhattan Brothers she does the enigmatic panting that famously started the Rumble in the Jungle Documentary.

Her composition Milele is a stunning composition and this is a nice rendition with strong punch horn lines. Malouyame by Kemo Kouyate suits her style with long and expressive sustained notes.

Dorothy Masuka is one of her favourite composers. Her compositions include Kulala, TeyaTeya, Kadeya Deya and Hapo Zimani fit into her repertoire very well. With Kulala performed dramatically as a favourite in Guinea.

A number of other new and exciting names of African Jazz are exposed: Martha Mdenge's Ngewundini, Solomon Linda's Mbube. Davashe's Saduva, Djiv Da Salinha by JC Schwartz, the Welcome Duru composition ChooChoo Train, Reggie Msomi , Abigail Khubeka, Nomande Sihawu, Johanna Radebe; Gibson Kente's off beat ditty Remember Sophiatown, Allan Silinga's Ntjilo Ntjilo and Holiliili, Todd Matshikiza's Back of the Moon and Oh Tell My Mother; Alpheus Mnyandu's African Sunset and NdikoXaba “Emavungweni”. She introduces the traditional song Ingwe Mabala a traditional song by Makeba's mother when she healed as a Sangoma.

The composition Kikirikiki pronounced with an l for the r composed by R Bopape and Z Nkabinde has rhythmical horn refrains, repetitive chorus lines with a chant and an inclusive trance dance into the township groove – loose on the hips. Makeba tells the story of over using the hula hoop when it first came out when she was a kid. It was banned because some kids would use it all day and all nigh and some even died from it.

PataPata her worldwide hit was co-composed with Jerry Ragaway ... “PataPata is the name of a dance they do down Johannesburg way. Everyone starts to move when the song plays.”

She strikes a bond with South America. She records songs such as the Afro American prayer Reza composed by Eduardo Lobo, perfect suited to Makeba's expressive vocalisations and Jorge Ben's compositions, such as Masquenade, Xico da Silva and ChuveChova

 

Mama Afrika to the exiles

Letta Mbulu, Caiphus Semenya and Masekela were prodigies of Makeba's success in New York. Whilst they were baby-sitting her daughter they were teaching her as well. Bongi Makeba emerges as a composer with the song West wind co composed with Semenya.

Oxgam aka (Click Song number 2) is an interesting LettaMbulu composition. It is identical to the Click song! The Click Song is a traditional song sung in South African villages for young girls when they get married. Caiphus Semenya “Hauteng” and “Julukomo” a Pondoland song sung by young maidens in praise of the young braves going into battle.

Letta Mbulu's “Ibhabalazi” and Akana Nkomo - a warning to all young women not to smile at young men who do not have cows for mama and papa.

Political:

Makeba sings Jeremy Taylor's song “A piece of ground,” taken from the musical Wait a Minnum. She says, “In the case of South Africa one has to be specific. Jeremy wrote this song because perhaps he loves the truth. He talks about many things that happened in our country and most of that is still happening today.”

Khawuleza is a song from the townships translated to mean “Hurry, Hurry!” It is sung in a police raid.

Nongqongqo composition sings about South African leaders – Sobukwe, Luthuli and Mandela – and their role in the struggle. It was performed throughout her career from an Evening with Harry Belafonte to Brussels in 1998 and the concert Voices for Peace organised by the international Yehudi Menuhin Foundation

The composition Mayibuye exalts the struggle. It is co-composed with Christoper Singxaka. Mayibuye is bringing people together in Southern Africa. And she sings for the freedom of Africa and her leaders. The song comes from the townships and locations near the cities of South Africa and is a plea for all Southern Africans to come together and share their problems and try to solve them in the manner of great fathers like Cetshwayo, Moshoeshoe, Liuthuli, Lobengula etc. Mayibuye means Come Back Africa. She performs Ask the rising Sun composed by Irma Jurist. The recording features the composition Umhome by Makeba, a song from Swaziland. She tells the story of a romantic betrayal between a husband and best friend. In her autobiography she tells the story of how her first husband betrayed her with her sister. Perhaps Umhome composition is a healing of this experience? It includes Salter compositions “You are in Love,” and “When I've passed on.”

The co-composition with William Suter A Luta Continua sings for Samora Machel. It was about when Miriam attended the independence celebrations in Mozambique. It is dedicated to Frelimo and Samora Machel. Makeba got stuck in Mozambique and stayed there for a long time.

The song Witchdoctor (isangoma) and “Martala” is composed by Bongi. It has a political tone. During OAU there was a deadlock for the representation of the MPLA as the representation of Angola. Not until Mutala Mohammed and the people of Nigeria decided to join the progressive forces of Africa the deadlock was broken. And thus MPLA emerged as the sole and only representative of the people of Angola. Mohammed said, “regard for the common man has got to emerge, corruption has got to end.”

She recorded the Harari Song “Goodbye Poverty” and the Mabuse composition “Vukani.”

Stanley Todd and Hugh Masekela's composition African Convention has a call and response for music, rhythm, dancing and loving over a driving groove. Meet Me at the River is a Hugh Masekela composition about the girls who go down to the river with their calabashes to collect water. Sabela composed by Philamon Hou has sustained notes – soaring – over a township sound.

The recordings: Makeba issued no less than 29 individual albums along with the countless 78s, 45s and EPs pressed in at least 33 countries.

50s

50s The female vocal band the Sunbeams preceded the Skylarks. These recordings were rediscovered in Gideon Nxumalo's personal collection of LP's. These are some of the only existing records from EMI, as their archives subsequently burnt down.

They are largely unique songs. The Nomalizo composition becomes well known. The tune Sputnik is a familiar Sophiatown Shuffle with Makeba soloing out in front of her backers. This is the formation of Makeba's sound: guitar jive and vocal harmony with lyrics waxing and waning to the theme of a story.

Skylarks became prolific recording over 1000 vocal tracks for Gallo. The Skylarks included a 14 year old Mary Rabotapi, 16 year old Abigail Khubeka. On occasion a 5 th female voice Nomande Sihawu would join Skylarks. The final track she recorded was “Miriams Goodbye to Africa.”

 

The New York years produces a pile of 15 CDs 1965 – 1979 New York

 

Arrival on the international stage 1960

Into Yam was one of the songs that Makeba song on Rogosin's Come Back Africa. It was also the first song she sung on live TV Steve Allen show 1960. She then performed the click song which captivated him and the audience. 1960 was also Sharpeville in South Africa and for many Americans she became the style and face of a distant country in crisis.

One More Dance sung with Harry Belafonte 1960 live at Carnegie Hall, sung with such a gentle pace and the audience loves the hilarious lyrics.

Grammy award composer and bass player William Salter helps expand Miriam Makeba's repertoire.

 

***

The New York years are the best preserved with a pile of albums recorded for RCA and Mercury records. When she joined RCA, she bought herself out of the contract with Gallotone Records in South Africa.

Her first album with RCA the reviewer Time magazine wrote: “From Johannesburg … the most exciting new singing talent to appear in many years.”

Makeba is open to a broad range of stylistic influences including calypso, gospel, barber shop and jazz. Belafonte's album Calypso 1956 was the first album in the US to sell over 1M copies, Makeba samples it with a fascinating flamenco guitar style, introducing it in a hilarious township slang Afrikaans spoken at the time. Gibson Kente compositions add to the storytelling approach.

The album “an evening with Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba” wins the Grammy award and includes all South African musicians and five Makeba compositions. The album was conducted and arranged by Jonas Gwangwa and includes 3 of his compositions too including “Give us our land”. Beware Verwoed (Ndodemnyama) is an upbeat and joyful warning. Naughty Little Flea is written by Norman Thomas. She sings two Welcome Duru songs, Nomeva and Train Song (Mbabule) which has Harry Belafonte singing away in Zulu.

“Makeba Sings” is a collaboration with Masekela . He conducts the orchestra.

Following Albums are The Magnificent Miriam Makeba ‘66 and Pata Pata ‘67. Pata Pata was the first African song to reach America's top 10 pop charts.

“All About Miriam” a collection of love, folk and sad songs was her first of three records for Mercury Records which included “ Magic” and “Magnificent.”

The 1973 compilation album Forbidden games as a compilation of the RCA years. The title track comes from the classic French movie Les Jeux Interdit.

“She sings with the conviction and force and beauty. Her entire demeanour is one of regal acceptance of a responsibility to be great,” wrote Mercury.

Yetetu Tizaley composed by M.A Betresidk shows her love of the exotic Arab sounds. Makeba loved the melodic minors of the jewish songs such as Shihibolet.

 

The Guinea Years: The Guinea years are populated with only two albums due to a fire at the Guinea state broadcaster that destroyed all the masters. The music was recovered from copies on the market place.

This has been made into the album Live au Palais du People du Conakry – a collection of live recordings 70 to 77. It includes three Masuka songs. Kulala, TeyaTeya and KadeyaDeya. It includes the Kente composition, Julukomo about the young maidens who sing this song in praise of the young braves going into battle. From Pondo EC it is a song of encouragement. There is the co-composition uShaka with LettaMbulu and Masekela'sLusophonic sound in Tonados to Media Noche.

Her musical relationship with her daughter comes through with the co-compositions “Malcolm X” and “Talking and Dialogueing.”

The live material shows how our compositions provide a beautiful basis for improvisation, dance and fun. Quintette Guinnean with the Kouyate borthers perform the song IpheNdlela. She communicates with the audiences in 4 languages – English, Wolof, French and Zulu! She infuses the rhythms with the names of her friend and benefactor Sekou Tour eas well as others sobukwe, Kaunda, Gadaffi, Nkruman … African leaders.

We hear a taste of the in depth work she did with Arabian orchestras. On her epic song Ifriqiya (Africa) she sings in Arabic with a full Arabic orchestra of strings and percussion following the voice. It ends at 1:07 and then starts again?? Yet as rough and ready as the recording is the strings are magnificent – it is from North to South as she says. Her amazing approach to language shows it up as merely a tool of communication.

Issues from the editions Syliphone Conakry made its way onto a Sterns release Guinea years. Makeba had her business affairs manager Graeme Gilfillan fly to London and remove the Stern release from their shop shelves.

And the work she did with the Arab orchestras of North Africa is yet to resurface.

The Homecoming years: From the mid 70s, Makeba's reputation as Mama afrika takes hold with her nurturing of many young musicians.

A promise” 1974 features mainly Caiphus Semenya compositions and a couple of numbers from Kemo and Sekou Kouyate

“Keep me in Mind” tells the story of her grandchild Nelson Lumumba Lee and the great joy the youngster brings to her. “Country Girl” is the beginning of the Stanley Todd / Hugh Masekela producer relationship.

There is a ten year gap between the recording of “Sabela” (also released as Comme Une Symphonie D'amouris) 1979 and “Walela” 1989. Although “Sangoma” was released in 1988, Times Warmer still holds the rights to it. “Eyes on Tomorrow” is released in 1991 and followed by “Sing me a Song” 1994 produced by Victor Msondo with a stellar line-up of a huge band of over 200 pieces, recorded in Bop Studios.

“Homelands” is recorded in 2000 and is produced by Cedric Samson who described his boss as “Passion, precision, love, energy and professionalism.”

The LIVE:

Throughout her career, Miriam Makeba was the best gig in town for any musician. She had diplomatic passports and paid her performers very well.

1968 Live in Tokyo is a rare album as it was first issued as a Japanese only pressing. The Japan tour was at a turbulent time in her career and life as she had married Stokely Carmichael, a civil rights leader ten years younger than her which resulted in her self-imposed exile from the US.

Some other live sessions include 1977 Live in Paris Theatre des champs Elysees, Montreaux Jazz Festival 1968, Live in Italy, at the Guinean National Festival, Live in Paris, Algiers, Holland, North Sea Jazz Festival. (1980), Vatican Christmas concert 1999 and Live in Oslo Norway 2006.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival was a favourite festival venue. She performed and recorded there 2002, 2004 and 2006. You get to see the band of musicians she chooses to conclude her career with. The inventive Afrika Mkhize starts of as the youngest member of the band. Faith Kekana on vocals and Innocent Modiba. Zenzi and Nelson Lee throughout. She dispenses with horns in her 12 piece band.

In 2006 Makeba embarked on a farewell tour across the globe and on the evening of Sunday 9 th of November and at the age of 76 she collapsed during a benefit performance against organised crime in Italy 

Siemon Allen interview:

The early years were largely disjointed and were assembled by Durban born American based musicologist Siemon Allen on 2 distinct compilations. After purchasing a second LP of Makeba and Belafonte, Siemon Allen became a collector eventually collecting 500 Makeba “items.” Allen discovered that her mass produced LP records issued all over the world were a perfect and significant vehicle for spreading an anti-apartheid message. He created an installation which revealed Makeba's changing portrait over time and the expanding global reach of her message.”

In July 2005 Siyandisa Music and Allen began conversations to bring rare Makeba music into the ZM Makeba Trust fold on the albums Tracks Less Travelled and Missing 50s. In 2010 he launched a non-profit searchable online data base for the broader collection at flatinternational.org

He said:

It is this well of water you keep on digging and you find more water.

With Makeba I started off being into the political content and the first motivation was to try and examine her political role in the anti-apartheid movement. But listening to the records I got blown away. That drew me into a broader appreciation of South African music.

My approach has been an appreciation of the music. Flatinternational.org is like a searchable data base to find forgotten tracks, as an information and visual database.

Scope of what was published? Build a picture of what was issued.

Collected all the way back to the boer war.

Primarily I am an artist that drifted into ethno-musicology and history. I am interested in re-telling stories about the past using the records as a vehicle.

Makeba was the face of South Africa to an international audience.

The LP record was the perfect vehicle for getting out a message.

There are not many LPS from the 50s because black music wasn't really marketing on vinyl – the primary format was 78 rpm. The vinyl was introduced in SA around 1954. She left in 1959. 1956 you have a couple of black musician being issued on 45 rpm – Spokes Mashiane is one of the first artists to have a full on album. Rave onTutone label brought out a compilation of his best works that had been put on 78 rpms.

The machines are different 78 versus vinyl, the needle is different. SA continued making 78s until 1968 which showed there will still people who had the machines to play that format. It was one of the last countries in the world to continue issuing 78s.

Makeba does appear on a LP called something new from Africa issued in 1958 and you can get a couple of EPs by the Skylarks. A lot of the stuff on vinyl was issued after she left by Gallo.

I see it more like an acetate the mathematical formula that gets closer to the axis but never gets there. At least in the collecting world, one of the things that motivates people is to full in the gaps.

The box-set collects her total discography and adds several new albums.

I got into cassettes and 8 tracks as well. LP records is the largest amount of material I have. It speaks to the times when she was most popular. She was huge in the 60s and to some extent in the 70s which was peak period for the revival markets. The cassette commercially came available in the 70s and a lot of them are reissues of her 60s material or compilation albums.

Makeba's peak period was the 60s but she was estranged from the US and the companies she was working with.

She still produced records but they were few and far between and issued by very different companies. There wasn't a marketing strategy and she didn't have the backing of a major company. She had some records issued by Syliphone.

And you had material from the 70s started to be issued by East German, Checkoslavakian and Russian companies so she is starting to break into those markets.

Her image and how the image had changed through the years with a visual presentation of all the records. You would see how her image changed over 30 years. Because the installation was free standing you could view the front and read the liner notes on the back.

She is the most extensive artist from SA – the most prolific.

It is this music that took South Africa mainstream. She truly is the beginning of world music.

It Features the unusual show boat blues number Little Boy by Makeba first released on Word of Miriam. The same track features in the Simeon Allen compilation, “Tracks less travelled.”

Some of the Allen discoveries and favourites include the bluesy tune “You Suffer too,” which also features on the b side of La Guinea Guine and comes from a series of 11 rare singles issued on the Syliphone Conakry label in the early 70s. "Charlie (Oh Mama)" features a stunning orchestra with a full hornline adding the jabs. A new version of "The ballad of Sad Young Men" came from a demo acetate produced from the estate of Luchide Jesus, the arranger on the Mercury releases.

 

 

 

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