The incomparable Hugh Masekela passed away last week.
When I saw the message from my former roommate who know how much I Ioved his music, I felt it. Hard. I never met the man or saw him perform live. In fact, I kept missing him whenever he had a show in my general vicinity, always by only a few days due to my schedule; twice in Ghana, then in South Africa. When I heard he was coming to Ann Arbor, I was like ... gotcha. I got my ticket the day it was released and blissfully waited for the day to come. But then he got sick and UMS emailed ticket holders to let us know he had canceled due to illness. But still I hoped. Until that old roommate living in South Africa texted the news the day it happened.
The sadness is in part because I'll never see him live but also because he will no longer make this deeply moving music; music that protested apartheid and injustice in South Africa just as much as it told humorous tales of everyday life in Africa. Melodies that always transported me back to the continent the days I missed it the most. Below are some of my favorite songs.
I'm grateful for how prolific he was and that I will forever hear it all: the remarkable voice, the soulful sound, and the unbridled passion for Africa and her people. You can read more about the man and his music here, here, and here.
Rest in peace and power, Mr. Masekela.
Grazing in the Grass