Hugh Masakela

AFRIMA Celebrates the Life of African Music Icon, Late Hugh Masekela


Young Trumpeter, Hugh Masekela

The International Committee of AFRIMA (All Africa Music Awards) celebrates the life of an African music icon and activist, Hugh Masekela as he passed on peacefully at his country home, Johannesburg, South Africa after a protracted battle with prostate cancer on January 23, 2018 at the age of 78.

Masekela earned three nominations at the 2017 AFRIM in the categories of ‘Best Male Artiste in Southern Africa’ for his recent single ‘Shango’ (2016), ‘Album of the Year’  ‘No Borders’ (2016) and for ‘Best Artiste in African Jazz’. These three nominations show that the legend waxed strong till his last breath.

As a nominee, Masekela was scheduled to be at the 2017 AFRIMA Main Awards Ceremony. A message from his management in response to AFRIMA’s invitation revealed that Hugh Masekela had just had an operation and would be unavailable to attend the AFRIMA 2017 main awards ceremony held in Lagos, Nigeria, between November10 – November 12.

The message also apologised for his inability to attend the Main Awards Ceremony. “Unfortunately, Bra Hugh will be unable to attend the awards ceremony but we are extremely grateful for the nominations”, it read. However, it was proposed that Nigerian-born Jazz artiste and producer, Mr. Kunle Ayo, who produced the nominated album ‘No Borders’ as well as the AFRIMA Country Director for South Africa, Mr. Lekunutu Sekobo, receive his award(s) in the likelihood that he won in any of his three nominated categories.

The President/Executive Producer, AFRIMA, Mr Mike Dada, stated that “it is a huge loss for the continent and African music. Masekela’s music had the depth, lyricism and instrumentation that placed the legend in the class of world music classics with a definitive signature of its African sound. The music icon will be greatly missed but his music and struggle for a free and prosperous Africa will always be in our hearts and minds.”

Hugh Masekela gained global recognition with his distinctive Afro-Jazz sound and for his hit song, Soweto Blues. He creates music from his African experiences and is known for the excellent use of the trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone and cornet instruments.

Born on April 4, 1939, he ventured into music as a child when the anti-apartheid chaplain, Archbishop Trevor Huddleston gave him a trumpet as a gift. In those days, he found an escape from the racial chaos in South Africa with music. He later joined the Johannesburg Native Municipal Brass Band. In later years, Masekela studied the art of music in London’s Guildhall School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, New York.

The legend had released 49 albums between 1966 and 2016 and has featured legends like Paul Simon, Lady Smith Mambazo, Mariam Makeba and others. Among other nominations, in 1968, he was nominated for the Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Pop Performance – Instrumental for his single, Grazing in the Grass, an anti-apartheid piece which sold 4 million copies worldwide.

AFRIMA will pay tribute to Hugh Masekela in a glorifying spectacle at its fifth edition scheduled to hold in November 2018.

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