03 April 2006

Monday's mp3: Hugh Masekela

Tomorrow, Hugh Masekela marks another birthday in an amazing life and career. As the story goes, Masekela received a trumpet from Archbishop Trevor Huddleston in 1954, and went on to use it to spread South African melodies throughout the jazz (and later, "world music") world. He has worked with many of the greats (Fela Kuti, Paul Simon, Abdullah Ibrahim, Bob Marley, Herb Alpert) and for a time was married to South African icon Miriam Makeba.

When you think of Masekela, you have to think not only of his music, but his role as something of an ambassador-at-large for South Africa (and specificically, black South Africa). The stories he tells in his songs capture snapshots of life, past and present, for ordinary South Africans.

This song is one of those stories that has stuck with me since I first heard it. It tells of the migrant workers from all over southern Africa coming to work in the mines, living far away from their families. This version was recorded live at Rufaro Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe

[mp3] Hugh Masekela: "Stimela (Coal Train) - Live"
from the 1987 album Tomorrow, which is out of print and rare. More Masekela albums here.

Masekela tours the USA from April 13 to May 14: Tour details here.
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