Remembering 'father of South African jazz' Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela was well-known for his anti-apartheid songs

In a statement issued by the South African government, President Jacob Zuma mourns the loss of the musician: "Mr. Masekela was one of the pioneers of jazz music in South Africa whose talent was recognized and honored internationally over many years". He released over 40 albums and toured in South Africa and internationally until late in 2017. The world-renowned trumpeters involvement in the struggle against South Africas apartheid regime sent him into exile in 1961, and his 1987 hit song for Nelson Mandela, “Bring Him Back Home, ” was used as the anthem for Mandelas world tour after his release from prison.

The 1977 song became synonymous with the anti-apartheid movement. As a child, he began singing and playing piano and was largely raised by his grandmother, who ran an illegal bar for miners. He also had a number 1 USA pop hit in 1968 with his version of "Grazing in the Grass". In 1960 he moved to NY and enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music.

Masekela mastered the trumpet after tutorial from the leader of the then Johannesburg "Native" Municipal Brass Band, Uncle Sauda, who taught him the rudiments of the instrument.

"If I can get a trumpet", he promised his chaplain, "I won't bother anybody".

His first trumpet belonged to Louis Armstrong and it was given to him by Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, an anti-apartheid chaplain at St. Peter's Secondary School now known as St. Martin's School (Rosettenville).

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Presidency.

"I speak for many when I say he will be dearly missed". An inspiration, a mentor.We shall continue with the baton.

HAPPY TIMES: Hugh Masekela on a visit to his old school - St Martin's - with his son, Sal Masekela (front far left), who now lives in the United States, in 2010. In 1999, he married Ghanaian-born Elinam Cofie. Restrictions imposed by the South African government on jazz, which authorities regarded as a way to express resistance, prompted Masekelas exile – first to London, then in NY – and he finally returned to his home country in the early 1990s after the end of apartheid. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available. Masekela won the Grammy award for "Best Contemporary Pop Performance-Instrumental" in 2012.

As expected, social media has been rife with tributes to the legendary African musician.

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