Monday, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba


MP3 File

The blogs will be full of Miriam Makeba's music today in commemoration of this wonderful woman, whose life suddenly ended early this morning after a concert. She was 76.

Miriam Makeba was an African Piaf, the voice by which the country of South Africa became known to the rest of the world. It was she, more than anyone else, who raised the world's awareness of the ugly reality of apartheid. She did it with her voice, sometimes overtly political, but just as often merely celebrating her culture and the people from whom she sprang.

I'm playing two traditional songs plus one in English with more of a maistream pop feel. I love the traditional songs because I love Africa, and even though I've only been to West Africa, there are some sounds from the continent that are universal. I can imagine my Ghanaian friends singing this joyous music just as well as South Africans.

The first two songs are from Sangoma, which was released to the rest of the world in 1988 but didn't make an appearance on these insulated shores until 2004. The word "sangoma" refers to South African shamans: herbal faith healers who call on ancestors for advice and healing for the living. Makeba's mother was a sangoma in the country of Swaziland.


Ravel said...

Farewell to a grand Lady.
Last week, it was Yma Sumac...

Ralph said...

Yes, Ravel, 'tis sad. As always, I'm so glad her musical legacy lives on.