Young voice revives Makeba’s legacy

2018-06-13 06:01
Sima Mashazi

Sima Mashazi

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A fitting tribute to inter­nationally acclaimed South African singer Zenzile Miriam Makeba’s music is billed for this year’s Vrystaat Arts Festival, taking place from 8 to 14 July.

A show paying homage to Makeba will be performed over two days in the Kunstetrust Odeion; on 11 July, at 20:30 and 12 July, at 10:00. Tickets cost R140.

Young singer Simangele “Sima” Mashazi (31) has taken on the task to revive Makeba’s legacy through an emotional initiative titled My Miriam Makeba.

She performs songs by the legendary songstress who was affectionately known as Mama Afrika.

Mashazi said that playing the role of Makeba in the musical production Mama Afrika had inspired her to make it her mission to revive Makeba’s music.

The production showcases the life of Makeba.

“My Miriam Makeba story is an opportunity to share the encouragement and inspiration I found in her story, in my own voice,” said Mashazi.

“Her life story is inspirational, but also the similarities that I had found in the paths that we travel as women and artists encourages me so much.

“I have learned so much about her life and who she was, even beyond the music.

“The biggest encouragement I find in her life is that she was an ordinary human like all of us who faced her fair share of adversity, but never let them steal her hope.

“She kept hoping and she kept going amidst all those human emotions like fear and doubt.

“Her life taught me that we all have it in us to overcome our circumstances and bring hope to others in the process. That is the message that I would like to share through this production.”

Mashazi said a friend had encouraged her to audition for the role of Makeba in 2015.

“In my mind it was a long shot, but I did it anyway, with very low expectations – but somehow the director saw something in me that I had not seen in myself and I was offered the lead role.”

After having conceived the concept early in 2017 to revive Makeba’s music, the young songstress immediately started working to realise it.

“It slowly came together from there,” she said.

My Miriam Makeba debuted in the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre in Stellenbosch in December last year.

In March this year it was showcased at the Stellenbosch Woordfees, and was nominated in the category for best solo artist (contemporary music), along with Elvis Blue and Karin Hougaard.

Makeba also left footprints as an actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador and civil-rights activist. Blended with African roots, her music falls into the AfroPop and jazz genre.

She is the maker of inspiring songs like the “Click Song”, “Malaika”, “Meet Me at the River”, “African Sunset”, “West Windand “Lakutshon Ilanga”.

Mashazi brings the rhythm of Makeba to the Vrystaat Arts Festival.

“The show carries a message of hope that everyone can relate to.

“Mama Makeba was and still is adored by her people in South Africa, as well as by wide international audiences.

“So, I believe that this show will find relevance at the Vrystaat Festival,” said Ma­shazi.

The project to revive Makeba’s legacy builds up to marking ten years, in November this year, since her death. Makeba died on 9 No­vember 2008 after she had fallen ill during a concert in Castel Volturno, near Caserta, Italy.

After medical examination, it emerged she had suffered a heart attack and she died in the Pineta Grande Clinic after doctors were unable to revive her.

Makeba reportedly had the fatal heart attack after singing “Pata Pata”, one of her classic songs, which was penned in 1967.


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