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MIRIAM MAKEBA - Singer And Activist

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Bianca
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« on: November 11, 2008, 07:49:14 am »



               










                                                Miriam Makeba, 76, Singer and Activist, Dies

       
 




By ALAN COWELL
Published:
November 10, 2008
The New York Times

Miriam Makeba, the South African singer whose voice stirred hopes of freedom among millions in her country with music that was banned by the apartheid authorities she struggled against, died overnight after performing at a concert in Italy on Sunday. She was 76.

Miriam Makeba performed in a concert on Sunday night in southern Italy shortly before she died early Monday.

The cause was cardiac arrest, according to Vincenza Di Saia, a doctor at the private Pineta Grande clinic in Castel Volturno, near Naples, where Ms. Makeba was taken by ambulance. The time of death was listed in hospital records as midnight, the doctor said.

Ms. Makeba collapsed as she was leaving the stage, the South African authorities said. She had been singing at a concert in support of Roberto Saviano, an author who has received death threats after writing about organized crime.

Widely known as “Mama Africa,” Ms. Makeba was a prominent exiled opponent of apartheid since the South African authorities revoked her passport in 1960 and refused to allow her to return after she traveled abroad. She was prevented from attending her mother’s funeral after touring in the United States.

Although Ms. Makeba had been weakened by osteoarthritis, her death stunned many in South Africa, where she was an enduring emblem of the travails of black people under the apartheid system of racial segregation. It ended with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990 and the country’s first fully democratic elections in 1994.

In a statement on Monday, Mr. Mandela said the death “of our beloved Miriam has saddened us and our nation.”

“Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and dislocation which she felt for 31 long years,” he said. “At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.

“She was South Africa’s first lady of song and so richly deserved the title of Mama Afrika. She was a mother to our struggle and to the young nation of ours.”

Mr. Mandela’s was one of many tributes from South African leaders.

As a singer, Ms. Makeba merged the ancient and the modern, tradition and individualism.

                                                                                                           
                                                                                         


Her 1960s hits “Qongqothwane,” known in English as “The Click Song,” and the dance song “Pata Pata,” which would be remade by many other performers in the next decades, used the tongue-clicking sound that is part of the Xhosa language her family spoke. Traditional African ululation was also one of her many vocal techniques.

But Ms. Makeba was also familiar with jazz and international pop and folk songs, and while South African songs would always be the core of her repertory, she built an ever-expanding repertory in many languages. Her voice was supremely flexible, and she could sound like a young girl or a craggy grandmother within the same song.

Ms. Makeba’s musical career spanned five decades, from 1950s recordings with South African vocal groups — the Manhattan Brothers and then her own female group, the Skylarks — through her last studio recording, “Reflections” (2004), and her continuing concert performances.

With tenderness, righteousness and playfulness, Ms. Makeba sang love songs, advice songs, spiritual songs, anti-apartheid songs and calls for unity. In bringing African music to other continents, she was a pioneer of what would be called world music, reworking her own heritage for listeners who might never hear it otherwise while creating fusions of her own.

Yet for all her internationalist hybrids, and through three decades as an exile, her music always made it clear that South Africa was her home.

As an exile Ms. Makeba lived variously in the United States, France, Guinea and Belgium. South Africa’s state broadcasters banned her music after she spoke out against apartheid at the United Nations.

“I never understood why I couldn’t come home,” Ms. Makeba said, as quoted by The Associated Press, during an emotional homecoming in Johannesburg in 1990 as the apartheid system began to crumble. “I never committed any crime.”

Music was a central part of the struggle against apartheid. The South African government censored many forms of expression, while many foreign entertainers refused to perform in South Africa and discouraged others from doing so in an attempt to isolate the white authorities and show their opposition to the regime.

From abroad, Ms. Makeba acted as a constant reminder of the events in her homeland as the white power structure struggled to contain or pre-empt unrest among the black majority.

Ms. Makeba wrote in 1987: “I kept my culture. I kept the music of my roots. Through my music I became this voice and image of Africa, and the people, without even realizing.”

« Last Edit: November 11, 2008, 08:27:50 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2008, 07:57:55 am »




             









                                                                                                             

She was married several times. Her husbands included the American black power activist Stokely Carmichael, with whom she lived in Guinea, and the South African-born jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela, who also spent many years in exile.


                                                                 


In the United States she became a star, touring with Harry Belafonte in the 1960s and winning a Grammy award with him in 1965 for “An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba.” Such was her following
and fame that she sang in 1962 at the birthday party of President John F. Kennedy. She also per-
formed with Paul Simon in his “Graceland” concert in Zimbabwe in 1987.

But she fell afoul of the music industry in the United States because of her marriage to Mr. Carmichael. Scheduled concerts were suddenly being canceled, she said.

“It was not a ban from the government; it was a cancellation by people who felt I should not be with Stokely because he was a rebel to them,” Ms. Makeba said in May in an interview with the British music critic Robin Denselow in The Guardian of London. “I didn’t care about that. He was somebody I loved, who loved me, and it was my life.”

Miriam Zenzi Makeba was born in Johannesburg on March 4, 1932, the daughter of a Swazi mother and a father from the Xhosa people, who live mainly in the eastern Cape region of South Africa. She became known to South Africans in the Sophiatown district of Johannesburg in the 1950s before singing professionally with the Manhattan Brothers and then the Skylarks.

Even after becoming a star, Ms. Makeba was often short of money and could not afford to buy a coffin when her only child, her daughter, Bongi, died at 36 in 1985, Agence France-Presse reported. Bongi Makeba was a singer and songwriter who had released an album and had performed with her mother. Ms. Makeba buried her daughter alone, barring a handful of journalists from covering the funeral. No other information on survivors was available.

In 1992, Ms. Makeba starred in “Sarafina!,” a film with Whoopi Goldberg about the 1976 Soweto youth uprisings; Ms. Makeba played the title character’s mother. She also took part in the acclaimed 2002 documentary “Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony,” in which she and others recalled apartheid.

Yet to Ms. Makeba, her music was never intended to further a political agenda; it was far more personal than that.

“I am not a political singer,” she told The Guardian. “I don’t know what the word means. People think I consciously decided to tell the world what was happening in South Africa. No! I was singing about my life, and in South Africa we always sang about what was happening to us — especially the things that hurt us.”





Celia W. Dugger contributed reporting from Johannesburg,
Rachel Donadio from Rome and
Jon Pareles from New York.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2008, 08:30:52 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2008, 08:20:23 am »




             
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2008, 08:23:00 am »




                                         
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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2008, 08:39:20 am »

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« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2008, 08:43:59 am »




             
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2008, 08:45:26 am »





             
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« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2008, 08:48:35 am »





               







The Xhosa people of South Africa are known beyond their home shores by two things in particular:


the ‘Click Song’ by Miriam Makeba, and

their most famous son, Nelson Mandela.



These  traditional songs are sung a capella, sometimes call-and-response, sometimes beautiful four-
part harmonies accompanied by stamping, clapping, ankle shakers, whistling…

The songs tell about events such as weddings, hunting, spiritual matters, ethical issues, the pride
of the people.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2008, 08:50:46 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2008, 08:52:19 am »





                                   
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« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2008, 08:54:05 am »




               

                Miriam Makeba receives the Polar Prize  from
                King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden

                May 27, 2002
« Last Edit: November 11, 2008, 08:55:52 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2008, 08:59:52 am »





                      






Editorial Reviews


As the first complete autobiography of Miriam Makeba, this book celebrates the life of this remarkable talent and global icon of music, style, and history.

It chronicles Makeba's entire life, from her early days growing up on the Rand and performing with the Manhattan Brothers, to her departure from South Africa.

It also details Miriam's life in America and friendship with Harry Belafonte, her performance for President John F. Kennedy alongside Marilyn Monroe, her marriage to Stokely Carmichael, and her life in Conakry, Guinea.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2008, 09:01:46 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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