Playing through the changes

2012-02-03 09:59


Adolph Johannes Brand on October 9 1934 in Cape Town. He first received piano

lessons at the age of seven.

He became an avid consumer of jazz records brought by American

sailors visiting the Mother City, and
was playing jazz professionally by

at age 15.


of his gifts as a musician, he established The Jazz Epistles in Sophiatown,

Joburg, with the likes of Kippie Moeketsi and Hugh Masekela.

The band recorded
in 1960 the first jazz LP by black South

African musicians and from then on, he became known to the world audience simply

as Dollar Brand.


he turned 34 in 1968, Dollar Brand embraced Islam and changed his name to

Abdullah Ibrahim.


his career, Ibrahim took on a revolutionary guise. He used his music to

highlight the dire conditions in apartheid South Africa. Soon after the 1976

Soweto uprisings, he was exiled in New York where he

joined the ANC.
The apartheid regime subsequently cancelled his



around the
mid-1980s, Ibrahim’s martial arts interests took centre

His karate skills were highlighted in a biographical documentary

titled Abdullah Ibrahim –
A Brother With Perfect Timing. It was directed by

Chris Austin.


lives in New York, with his wife Sathima Bea Benjamin, who is a great musician

in her own right. They married in 1965.

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