100 World Class South Africans: Hugh Masekela

2013-05-08 12:00

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Global jazz giant

The movie of Bra Hugh’s life would run a little like Forrest Gump – only all true.

He arrived in New York during the Jazz Age, was mentored by Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie, worked with Miles Davis, moved to California during the height of ‘Flower Power’ – sharing stages with Hendrix, Joplin and Marley – and organised a music festival for

Muhammad Ali’s famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ boxing match in then-Zaire.

He worked with Afrobeat king Fela Kuti and with Paul Simon on the seminal Graceland.

Now in his 70s, Masekela ain’t slowing down – in 2010 he opened the Fifa Soccer World Cup in South Africa and did a sold-out world tour where his trumpet tunes were transcribed for full orchestra.

In 2012 he played for the Queen in Westminster Abbey and joined U2 on stage.

This January he performed a tribute to Mandela in Washington to commemorate the second term of President Obama.

Masekela’s recorded 43 albums, with Jabulani getting a Grammy nomination this year.

Not bad for an exile who danced a little too close to the= demon of drugs and alcohol.

He’s overcome political and personal challenges to become a true living legend, which is why the US Virgin Islands proclaimed a Hugh Masekela Day (19 March) in 2011.

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