Hugh Masekela


South African flugelhorn and cornet player. In 1961, as part of the anti-apartheid campaign, he was exiled to the United States where he was befriended by [a=Harry Belafonte]. Primarily, he played in jazz ensembles, with guest appearances on albums by [a=The Byrds], and [a=Paul Simon]. In 1987, his single, "Bring Him Back Home", became an anthem for the movement to free Nelson Mandela. After apartheid ended, Masekela returned to South Africa.

Masekela was an old collaborator of [a=Abdullah Ibrahim]. He is reported to have been initially inspired in his musical growth by Trevor Huddleston, a British priest working in the South African townships who financed Masekela's first trumpet. Masekela played his way through the Sophiatown scene with [a=The Jazz Epistles] and to Britain with King Kong, to find himself in New York in the early-1960s. He had hits in the United States with the pop-jazz tunes "Up, Up and Away" and the number one "Grazin' in the Grass".

A renewed interest in his African roots led him to collaborate with West and Central African musicians, and finally to reconnect with South African players when he set up a mobile studio in Botswana, just over the South African border, in the 1980s. Here he re-absorbed and re-used mbaqanga strains, a style he has continued to use since his return to South Africa in the early-1990s.

[b]Born:[/b] 4th April 1939, in Witbank, Mpumalanga, South Africa.
[b]Died:[/b] 23rd January 2018, in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. [prostate cancer, aged 78]