Kudos to Siemon Allen at the always-worthwhile Electric Jive blog for Miriam Makeba - Tracks Less Travelled (1958-98), a fascinating overview of the work of the great South African diva. There are plenty of audio rarities here and lots of little-known facts. Altogether a must-read and must-listen, and highly recommended!
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
We were all saddened to hear of the death yesterday, November 10 of the esteemed South African singer Miriam Makeba. She was 76 and suffered a heart attack during a concert in Italy.
Makeba, known as "Mama Africa," was an artist who suffered greatly for her outspokenness on behalf of the oppressed, but she shouldered that burden gladly. Already a major star in South Africa, she was stripped of her passport in 1960 after speaking out against the apartheid system while on a world tour. In exile, she achieved global fame with her hit song "Pata Pata" in 1967, but her career suffered another setback in 1968 when she married civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael. Without a recording contract and unable to find bookings in the United States, she and her husband took up residence in the republic of Guinea as guests of President Sekou Touré. It was in Guinea that she suffered the tragedy of her daughter Bongi's mental illnesss and subsequent death.
In 1987 her career was reborn in the wake of Paul Simon's album Graceland. She toured the world with Simon and other South African musicians and released Sangoma, an album of the traditional Xhosa songs of her youth.
To promote Sangoma, Warner Brothers Records made available to media outlets Miriam Makeba: The Sangoma Interview (Warner Brothers PRO A-2974, 1988), a recording of a one-hour session with journalist Roger Steffens. In honor of Mama Africa, I'm pleased to present it here:
Miriam Makeba - The Sangoma Interview Pt. 1
Miriam Makeba - The Sangoma Interview Pt. 2
Miriam Makeba - The Sangoma Interview Pt. 3
Miriam Makeba - The Sangoma Interview Pt. 4
Update: As you might expect, the blogs have been all over this story. Matsuli and With Comb and Razor, of course. Also Spinning in Air and Undercover Black Man. World Service offers a rare "pre-mix" version of Sangoma, while Zero G Sound features a download of her 1960 debut US LP. Meanwhile, Global Groove has the 1965 RCA Victor album Makeba Sings! There are many more tributes than I can list here, naturally.