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African Music and Dance Is High Culture: The Power of Song in the Struggle for Survival

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There was a time when Africans sang their own songs alone. Little boys and girls on the Township/Shanty streets and in the rural areas gathered together to sing, and when they formed bands, they were like beggars-Now the paupers have become kings.

There was a time when Africans sang their own songs alone. Little boys and girls on the Township/Shanty streets and in the rural areas gathered together to sing, and when they formed bands, they were like beggars-Now the paupers have become kings.

Polyrhythmic Vibey Grooves

Music Of Africa

Africa, home to 350 million people belonging to some 3000 tribes and speaking some 800 to 1000 distinct languages, is one of the most musically diversified regions of the world. The geographical variety of the continent — from the mountains and the vast desert of the North to the wide Savannah belt, the central rain forests and the fertile southern coast — is reflected in a multiplicity of musical styles.

In spite of this diversity, unifying features may be identified. African music is primarily percussive. Drums, rattles, bells and gongs predominate, and even important melodic instruments such as xylophones and plucked strings are played with percussive techniques. African melodies are based on short units, on which performers improvise.

Though melodies are often simple rhythms are complex by European standards, with much syncopation (accents on beats other than the main one), hemiola (juxtaposition of twos and threes) and polyrhythm (simultaneous performance of several rhythms).

While Western rhythms are classified as ‘additive’ (time span divided into equal sections, e.g., 12 beats divided 4+ 4 + 4), African rhythms are usually ‘divisive’ (unequal sections, e.g., 12 beats divided 5 + 7 or 3 + 4 + 5). An unusual aspect of African rhythm is what has been called the ‘metronome sense,' the ability of many musicians to perform for long periods without deviating from the exact tempo. Group performances are most typical, and the ‘call-and-response’ style with a solo leader and responsorial group is used throughout the continent.

Most African music is based on forms of diatonic scales, closely related to European scales; so the Western listener may find it more familiar, more accessible than the music of Asia.

These characteristics apply to the cultures south of the Sahara Desert, often referred to as ‘Black Africa’. North African music is more closely allied to the music of other Arab countries of West Asia and is characterized by solo performance, monophonic rather than polyphonic forms, the predominance of melody over rhythm, a tense and nasal vocal style and non-percussive instruments including bowed rather than plucked strings.

While the North as well as portions of West Africa and the East coast have been influenced by Islam, a distinctive sub-region is formed by Ethiopia, whose music has been influenced for centuries by Coptic Christianity, reflected in the ritual melodies, modes and liturgical chant (which is notated). Ethiopian instruments include the small krar lyre and the large, ten-string beganna lyre, claimed to be a descendant of David's harp.

In sub-Saharan Africa, music is an integral part of daily life. Songs accompany the rites of passage, work and entertainment. They were also important in the life of the traditional African courts, and are still used for political comment, especially in West Africa.

Although the claims that all members of African communities participate in musical activities are now discredited, studies have shown that communal music-making is more common than in the West. And although musicians are generally accorded low social status, skilled professional musicians (called griots in some regions), employed by rich patrons, are common in many African societies. Musical notation is rare in Africa; skills and knowledge are passed from master to pupil in oral tradition.

The most celebrated African instruments are membrane drums The famous ‘talking drums’ of West Africa, such as the atumpan of Ghana, can imitate speech tones and are sometimes used to signal messages. Speech is also imitated by bells, gongs and wind instruments of the horn, trumpet and flute types.

Harps are played mainly north of the Equator, in a broad band extending from Uganda to the western Savannah. Harp-lutes, such as the Gambian kora, are popular in West Africa. Other string instruments include fiddles in East Africa and the musical bow, fashioned like a hunting bow and played, with varying techniques and great sophistication, throughout the continent.

Wind instruments of the trumpet and horn types are played in orchestras, in hocket fashion, with each instrument supplying its one note to the melodic whole. The algaita, an oboe-type instrument of West Africa, is probably of Islamic influence. Xylophones are common, particularly in the East where the Chopi xylophone orchestras of Mozambique perform polyphonic dance suites of uncommon beauty.

An instrument unique to African and African-American music is thembira or sanza (called thumb piano in earlier writings); it consists of a set of thumb-plucked metal tongues mounted on a board, often with a gourd resonator.

In recent decades, traditional African music has tended to be overshadowed by new hybrid urban forms such as highlife (Ghana), juju (Nigeria), Congolese (Zaire) and kwela (southern Africa) which blend elements from Western pop and disco idioms with local features. (Oxford Grove Music Encyclopedia)

In the area of material culture of Africans, they have been known to have made a lot of contributions many areas, and in this Hub, we will look at the their music globally. Many achievements made by many Africans have gone unrecognized and acknowledged.

Also, in this Hub, I will try to present these musicians, known and unknown, with their little histories and a sample of their music/sound/audio-wise to help the reader/listener familiarize themselves much more better as to what African World music is all about and sounds like.

We are informed more generally by Wikipedia about music of Africa in the Diaspora that:

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"Much of the music of the African diaspora was refined and developed during the period of slavery. Slaves did not have easy access to instruments, so vocal work took on new significance. Through chants and work songs people of African descent preserved elements of their African heritage while inventing new genres of music.

The culmination of this great sublimation of musical energy in to vocal work can be seen in genres as disparate as Gospel music and Hip-Hop. The music of the African diaspora makes frequent use of 'ostinato,' a motif or phrase which is persistently repeated at the same pitch.

The repeating idea may be a rhythmic pattern, part of a tune, or a complete melody. Banjo is a direct decedent of the 'Akontin' created by the Jola people, found in Senegal, Gambia andGuinea-Bissau in West Africa. Hence, the melodic traditions of the African diaspora are most alive in Blues and Jazz."

Historically, several factors have influenced African music in Africa. The music has been influenced by languages of their local cultures, cultures through their traditions and customs, the environment, various differentiated African continent cultures, politics, economics, religion, migrations and interior continental immigrations, all of which are intermingled and give birth to all types of African sounds systems, musically.

Each African clan or nation evolved in a different area of the continent, meaning they had varied diversity in on what kinds of foods they ate, living and surviving in different weather patterns, and variegated interaction with other nations and clans. Each of these enclaves and African collectives affected and effected each other, but maintain the mainstays of their original African cultures, even when they co-mingle with other African cultures.

Each society in these intercultural fusions and morphing, did not do so because this was facilitated by their governments or need government intervention, but collusion of differentiated cultures within Africa and in the Diaspora so that they end up having their cultures, customs and traditions molded, influenced, effected and affected by their differing their musical styles.

So that, the music and dance forms of the African Diaspora include African American music and many Caribbean genres such as Ska, Rockcksteady, Reggae, Soca, Calypso and Zouk. Latin American music genres such as the Flamenco, Samba, Rumba, Salsa Bon and Son(Cuban) Bachata and Merengue(Dominican Island); Peru Negro; Afro-Combian; Music of Bahia and so forth.

These will be touched on just below towards the end of the Hub, and I will give short histories of various artists and their video music just to give the Hub a very deep flavor of African music, the artists and their histories, globally, thus enhancing the reader/lister's musical appreciation and palate. So that, we will begin to have a bit of a breakdown of some of these genres and the videos to go with them below.

We also learn from Wikipedia that, for instance:

Jamaica:

'Early forms of African-Caribbean music in Jamaica was Junkanoo, (a type of folk music now more closely associated with The Bahamas and (the culture of Jamaica)), the quadrille (a European dance) and work songs were the primary forms of Jamaican music at the beginning of the 20th century. These were synthesized into mento music, which spread across the island. In the 20th century influences from the United States were fused to create the uniquely Jamaican forms Dancehall and Ska. Subsequent styles include Reggae, Rocksteady and Raggamuffin.

Ska

Ska -, Jamican [skajae]) is a music genre that originated in Jamzica in the late 1950s, and was the precursor to Rocksteady and Reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbeanmento and Calypso with American Jazz and Rhythm and Blues. It is characterized by a 'walking bass' line accented with rhythms on the 'upbeat' In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with Britsh mods Later it became popular with many Skinheads.

Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three periods: the original Jamaican scene of the 1960s (First Wave), the English 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s (Second Wave) and the third wave ska movement, which started in the 1980s (Third Wave) and rose to popularity in the US in the 1990s.

Jamaican Music before Bob Marley

Some of the most joyous music ever came out of Jamaica before Bob Marley and The Wailers put reggae on the music world's map. Ska, early rock-steady, the first toasters (deejays who chatted over b-sides where the vocals were removed or ghosted), the music of the early bands and sound systems... people like Prince Buster, Coxsone Dodd, the Ska-talites, Jackie Mittoo, Don Drummond, King Stitt, U-Roy, King Tubby, Lee Perry... all of these contributed to a culture of music without which there were be no reggae or Marley. This video is simply meant to celebrate a little of that time and the people who sowed the seeds of Jamaican music. The photos were chosen, in part, to go with the artists whose music is included, but also simply to complement the feeling of the music. The tunes included are 'Don't Throw Stones' by Prince Buster, 'Occupation' by Don Drummond (Ska-talites), 'Totally Together' by Jackie Mittoo, and 'Alipang' by the Ska-talites. I hope you enjoy the set.

Rocksteady


Rocksteady is a music genre that originated in Jamaica around 1966. A successor to Ska and a precursor to Reggae, rocksteady was performed by Jamaican vocal harmony groups such as The Gaylads, The Maytals and The Paragons. The termrocksteady comes from a dance style that was mentioned in the Alton Ellis song "Rock Steady". Dances performed to rocksteady were less energetic than the earlier ska dances. The first international rocksteady hit was "Hold Me Tight" (1968) by the American soul singer Jonny Nash it reached number one in Canada.

Caribbean Tones And Sounds

Lesser Antilles

As is the case throughout the Caribbean, Lesser Antillean musical cultures are largely based on the music of African Slaves brought by European traders and colonizers. The African Musical elements are a hybrid of instruments and styles from numerous West African 'tribes'(clans), while the European slaveholders added their own musics into the mix, as did immigrants from India.

The ex-British colonies include Trinidad and Tobago whose Calypso style is an especially potent part of the music of the other former British colonies, which also share traditions like the Big Drum dance. Trinidadian folk calypso is found throughout the area, as are African-Caribbean religious music styles like the Shango music of Trinidad.

Calypso's early rise was closely connected with the adoption of Carnival by Trinidadian slaves, including Camboulay drumming and the music masquerade processions. In the 1970s, a calypso variant called Socaarose, characterized by a focus on dance rhythms rather than lyricism. Soca has since spread across the Caribbean and abroad.

Steel drums are a distinctively Trinidadian ensemble that evolved from improvised percussion instruments used in Carnival processions. Steel bands were banned by the British colonial authorities. Nevertheless, steel drums spread across the Caribbean, and are now an entrenched part of the culture of Trinidad and Tobago.

The French Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe share the popular Zouk style and have also had extensive musical contact with the Music of Haiti, itself once a French colony though not part of the Lesser Antilles. The Dutch Colonies of Curacao Bonaire and Aruba share the combined rhythm popular style. The islands also share a passion for Kaseko, a genre of Surinamese music; Suriname and its neighbors Guyana and French Guianashare folk and popular styles that are connected enough to the Antilles and other Caribbean islands that both countries are studied in the broader context of Antillean or Caribbean music.

Creole and Francophone Caribbean:

Haiti:

Haitian music is familiar to people in the English-speaking world as Merenge[ue] It developed during the early decades of the 20th century. When jazz became popular worldwide, mini-jazz (mini-djaz in Haitian Creole) was created as Haiti's local variety. Kadans, Haitian Creole for cadence, followed the mini-jazz era. Kadans had an influence on the development of Zouk in the French-speaking Antilles of the Caribbean. Haiti's most well-known modern music genre is Compas(Kompa) music. It was first popularized in the 1950s by Nemours Jean Baptiste.

Zouk Music:

Zouk is a style of music originating in Guadeloupe and Martinique during the 1980s. It has many influences, from Haitian, Calypso, Beguine andCompas(Kompa). The conventional zouk sound has a slow tempo, and it is sung inAntillean Creole, although it also has varieties that have developed in francophone Africa. It is popular throughout the French-speaking world, including France and Quebec.

Līwa (Arabic -laywah) is a traditional dance of African origin performed in the Arab State Of The Persian Gulf, mainly within communities of descendants of people from the Swahili Coast(Tanzania and Zanzibar). It is also performed by the African-descended Sheedi community, as well as the Beloch of Pakistan's Makran Coast and Karachiarea

A large number of male participants arrange themselves into a circle, which is anchored by one or several drum players. A man paces in the middle of the group playing a simple reed instrument called Mizmar or Surnai, whose plaintive sharp sound reminds the listener of an Oboe. The circle claps and dances in place, while individuals join a line which rhythmically paces around the inside of the circle. The Liwa is a more casual dance than the others, and can be performed with great spirit and banter from the young men who usually take part.

The three backing drums for this dance are the shindo, the jabwah, and thejasser. More recently, a fourth drum—known as the Peeper—was added. This drummer plays a dominant role, which gives him plenty of opportunity for a virtuoso performance.

The mizmar has an oboe-like sound and produces a haunting melody, which is lent particular poignancy by the eastern 'tonic scale' to which it is tuned. Like the oboe, it is made in two pieces, with a double reed fitted into the second piece. The best instruments these days are made of African 'hardwood' in Mombassa and Dar Es Salaam. Their cost can be as high as $2,000.

The Liwa begins with a mizmar solo of about six minutes in slow tempo. The drums join in, followed by the ten dancers/singers, and gradually the pace increases to reach a spectacular swirl of activity. The whole dance takes about 25 minutes and both men and women can be involved in a performance.

The singing is always performed in Swahili -- the native language of Tanzania and Zanzibar. These were both major trading partners with the Persian Gulf in centuries past, and have lent their language and culture to influence this fascinating dance.

It is especially performed on 'Eid' and other celebrations.

S

United States

This section is broader than explained or expounded on here. But a shortened version of this genre is given below as follows:

African-Americans first came to the United States as slaves, and they brought their music with them. Over time, a new genre of music developed, called spirituals. Spirituals were the songs that the African-American slaves sang. Most have religious texts, and they were sung by the slaves at many different times, including while working, in prayer meetings, and in black churches. They helped the slaves cope with slavery. They were composed by the community and the genre came out of the African-American slave experience.

Spirituals developed because the slaves' masters forced Christianity onto the slaves. Through Christianity, the slaves learned many hymns. Eventually, the hymns and the text of the Bible combined with many elements of music that the slaves had brought with them from Africa, such as antiphony (the call-and-response pattern) and syncopation. This eventually formed into the genre called Spirituals.

Many other African-American music genres, such as gospel and jazz, developed from this genre. I close the video section here with James Brown's Greatest Moves Ever just to show how far African Americans had taken their musical craft and dance from Slavery to James Brown and beyond

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History Of African Bands

Various African Musicians/Bands and Their Short History and Videos

African Music is the Soundtrack Of People's Lives: Rare Grooves

In this section of the Hub on the Music of Africans globally, I will be making some selections from various genres of the African Music System; and, along with their video presentations, I will give a short history of the band or artist just so that the reader/listener/viewer can have a better understanding and comprehension about the music the artists are playing and their life story and performance drive and abilities.

We have to recognize the fact that an effectively functional group must maintain some necessary measure of conformity and unanimity it is to achieve its goals in a planned and coordinated manner. What is remarkable about individuals who form distinct groups is their exceedingly high level of conformity and obedience to [musical], customary values, expectations, and legal standards.

Even more remarkable is their sameness or similarity of interests and tastes — their apparent love of or need to eat much the same foods and drinks prepared in the same ways; to be entertained by much the same amusement; to dress pretty much alike; speak the same language; express similar attitudes; like, play and listen to the same music; and behave pretty much within a rather narrow range of a very broad spectrum of behavioral possibilities. ((Parson)

Thus, culture, though a product of the actual lived experience of a people — the primal source of much of their daily personal and social activities, their forms of labor and its products, their celebratory and ceremonial traditions, modes of dress, art and music, language and articulatory, appetites and desires — is essentially ideological in nature based as it is on shared beliefs, customs, expectations and values. Culture constructs definitions, meanings and purposes.

These cultural constructs are used to proactively and reactively mold the mind, body, spirit and behavior of the members of these constituent cultures. Music is one of the vehicles used to unite and meld these cultural constructs, too.

So that, the issue of African music put in a historical, cultural, customary, traditional or linguistic context, gives us a better understanding about our music as to whence it comes from in terms of historical antiquity. Whether we talk about particular Empires or kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Kanem-Bornu, the Hausa States, Benin, Dahomey, the Asante Empire, etc., they were about trade, commercial activities of various types,"West Africa exported a wide range of goods to the outside world.

These included outstanding men and women who ruled and judged, made war or pursued the arts of peace, wrote books and spoke poetry, composed music or carved in stone, molded in clay worked in wood and ivory. There also took place a ... stratification of society, caused by the changing and expanding methods by which people worked and entertained themselves and produced wealth and evolution of their cultures.

Craftsmen formed themselves into different groups, according to their skills; metal workers, boat-builders, fishermen, farmers, diviners, priests, singers of songs and instrumental musicians, were all in the mix of a burgeoning African Culture and its music, etc.

So that, in the final analysis, this Hub is written about African music when there is a pervasive sense of foreboding and impending doom among Africans who let themselves look reality dead in the face.

In the face of the tremendous deterioration of their quality of life — mounting unemployment, increasing poverty, crime, moral degradation; devastating miseducation and the even more devastating lack of education; overwhelming drug addiction and insensate violence, homicide, terror, prostitution, disease and corruption, a youth culture whose raucous music speaks of nihilism, rape, robbery and murder(and total disrespect of culture, customs and traditions-along with their practices) -i.e., a youth that has been dumbed-down to sing about the degradation and venal hatred for African women of everything African.

It is important to look for new paradigms to shift this sceptic and dehumanized existence with a sense of unity within organizations, clear definition, direction, power and developmental plan and the wherewithal to realize its abundant human potential. I will use the musical approach in this Hub to highlight this African Human Potential that is embedded and ensconced within the African collective Globally.

So below, I will proceed to give the histories and the musical videos I have specially selected to show our African Musical culture and its cultural and human viability and potential that is part of its being in existence today: the power to morph, endure and re-invent itself with all what I have listed above are the attritions and bumps along the road that African people face today.

Below I will begin to post and posit the Videos and histories of the artists/band and their history. I will not post them in any particular order or genre-I will post them according to my selection and taste.

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Learson Marsalis (born October 18, 1961) is a trumpeter, composer, teacher, music educator, and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, United States.
Marsalis is the son of jazz musician Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (pianist), grandson of Ellis Marsalis, Sr., and brother of Branford (saxophonist), Delfeayo (trombonist), Mboya, and Jason (drummer).

Wynton Marsalis is an internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader, educator and a leading advocate of American culture. He is the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full jazz spectrum from its New Orleans roots to bebop to modern jazz. By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, tap dance to ballet, Wynton has expanded the vocabulary for jazz and created a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers.

Early Years

Wynton was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 18, 1961, to Ellis and Dolores Marsalis, the second of six sons. At an early age he exhibited a superior aptitude for music and a desire to participate in American culture. At age eight Wynton performed traditional New Orleans music in the Fairview Baptist Church band led by legendary banjoist Danny Barker, and at 14 he performed with the New Orleans Philharmonic.

Tania Maria - Come With Me Now (Live)

São Luís do Maranhão, Brazil

Tania Maria (b. Tania Maria Correa Reis, 1948 in São Luís do Maranhão, Brazil - aka Tania Maria), is considered to have an excellent notion of rhythm & balance, in music - combining an original blend of Brazilian music with jazz & funk.

She moved to Paris in 1974, New York in 1981 & returned to Paris again, after some years. Compared to the rest of the world (especially in the States & Europe), she is also well recognised in her homeland.

Sonny Phillips

Organist Sonny Phillips was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1936 to a musical family, but did not begin his jazz education until the age of 23, when he began studying with Ahmad Jamal. The music of Jimmy Smith inspired him to switch to the organ, and soon he was performing with soul-jazz greats such as Lou Donaldson, Eddie Harris, Houston Person, and Gene Ammons. Phillips debuted as a leader on the 1969 Prestige set Sure 'Nuff, which was followed by the 1970 dates Black Magic and Black On Black He returned to recording as a leader for the Muse label in 1976 with My Black Flower, but the next year's I Concentrate On You proved to be his final recording as a leader. After an illness in 1980, Phillips moved to Los Angeles, where he occasionally taught, performed, and recorded as a sideman during the years to follow.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk - I Say A Little Prayer

Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1936-1977) was a blind American jazz saxophonist, perhaps best known for his ability to play more than one saxophone at once.

Kirk was born Ronald Kirk on 7th August 1936, in Columbus, Ohio, but felt compelled by a dream to transpose two letters in his first name to make Roland. After another dream in about 1970 he added Rahsaan to his name.

His playing was generally rooted in soul jazz or hard bop, but Kirk’s encyclopedic knowledge of jazz history allowed him to draw convincingly on any element of the music’s history, from ragtime to swing and free jazz. Kirk also regularly explored classical and pop music.

Kirk played and collected a vast number of musical instruments, mainly various saxophones, clarinets, and flutes. His main instruments were tenor saxophone, and two obscure saxophones: the manzello (similar to a soprano sax) and the stritch (a straight alto sax lacking the instrument’s characteristic upturned bell). Kirk modified these instruments himself to accommodate his simultaneous playing technique.

He typically appeared on stage with all three horns hanging around his neck, as well as a variety of other instruments, including flutes and whistles. Kirk also played harmonica, coranglais, recorders, and was a competent trumpeter. He often used unusual instruments or combinations of instrument parts, using a saxophone mouthpiece on a trumpet or playing nose flute. He additionally used many extramusical sounds in his music, such as alarm clocks, whistles, sirens, and even primitive electronic sounds (before such things became commonplace).

In addition to the saxophones, Kirk was also an influential flautist, employing several novel techniques that he developed himself. One technique was to sing or hum into the flute at the same time as playing. (This technique was adopted later by many other players, including Jeremy Steig and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.) Another was to play the standard transverse flute at the same time as a nose flute.

Harold Mabern

20 March 1936, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Mabern started out as a drummer, playing briefly in a band led by Frank Strozier, but after hearing Phineas Newborn he taught himself to play piano. Quickly proving himself on his new instrument, Mabern moved to Chicago in 1954 where he played with Walter Perkins’ JMT+3, Bob Cranshaw, Strozier and others before moving to New York at the end of the decade.

Over the next four years, Mabern played in first-class company, including Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison, Jimmy Forrest, Lionel Hampton, the Art Farmer - Benny Golson Jazztet, Donald Byrd, Miles Davis and singers Irene Reid and Arthur Prysock. This was followed by a two-year spell with J.J. Johnson, after which came gigs with Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, Joe Williams and Sarah Vaughan.

In the early 70s he was a member of Lee Morgan’s last group and also at this time began a long-lasting teaching engagement at William Paterson College. He has also been a member of various piano groups, including Stanley Cowell’s Piano Choir and the Contemporary Piano Ensemble, and in the early 90s toured Japan with the 100 Gold Fingers Of Jazz.

For his own-name record dates, Mabern has gathered around him notable sidemen such as George Coleman, of whose quartet he was a long-standing member, Blue Mitchell, Morgan, Hubert Laws, Jack DeJohnette, Ron Carter and Kevin Eubanks.

In addition to the primary influence of Newborn, Mabern has acknowledged Ahmad Jamal. He is, however, a distinctive and highly original pianist. Although much of his melodic and fluent playing is couched in the language of bop and hard bop, with occasional hints of fusion, he is thoroughly steeped in the blues tradition.

Mabern is also an accomplished composer. Unjustly overlooked for many years, new albums and world tours in the late 90s and early 00s were starting to attract to Mabern the attention his great talent so richly deserves.

Harold Mabern was an excellent hard bop pianist as he hailed from Memphis. He led relatively few dates through the years, and was respected by his contemporaries.

Pape Fall

Amadou Pape Fall was born on the 3rd of July 1947 in Rufisque, 28 km from Dakar. In 1966 Pape Fall began his career as musician and singer with Dakar Rythme, which he soon quit to join L’Africain Jazz. In 1968, he joined the Youth Band of Dakar which became the Dunya Orchestra, with whom he won the trophy of the National Youth Week of Senegal on many occasions.

In 1971 Pape Fall joined the great Laba Soce, his good friend at the heart of the Super International Band, which had recently returned from the Ivory Coast. In 1972 it was the Super Cap Vert Band of Rufisque, that welcomed Pape Fall. Soon he would leave to join the Star Band of Dakar, where he found Laba Soce, Youssou N’Dour, Mar Seck and Idrissa Diop. Pape Fall released four discs with the Star Band, which were produced and directed by Ibra Kasse between 1976 and 1978.

In 1980 Pape Fall quit the Star Band to form his own group, the Africa Band, which later became Nder de Dakar. With this band he released his first cassette ”Nagou”.

Four years later Pape Fall reunited with Ibra Kasse, father of Senegalese music and owner of the Miami Nightclub and Star Band. This time the collaboration lasted eight years, until the death of Ibra Kasse in 1992. Pape Fall continued to tour with the band, now renamed the Kasse Band, until he created his own group, African Salsa in 1995. He released the higly acclaimed cassette ”Ke Jaraxam”. African Salsa celebrated the group’s anniversery with a massive public response at the temple of arts in Dakar. Two years later African Salsa released their second cassette ”Domou Nedeye”.

African Salsa has since then had a remarkable success, and in 1998 the band made its first appearance in London.,

Africando

Africando is a musical project formed in 1990 to unite New York-based salsa musicians with Senegalese vocalists. Subsequently, under the name 'Africando All Stars', musicians from other African countries were included.

Salsa has been a hugely popular style in Central and West Africa since the 1940s-1950s, and the goal of Africando was to merge salsa rhythms from both sides of the Atlantic, mainly based on the African salsa tradition.

Africando was initiated by West African producer 'Ibrahim Sylla' Malian arranger 'Boncana Maiga'(of 'Fania All Stars') and legenday charanga singer 'Ronnie Baro'. Some of the musicians initially involved were: 'Pape Sack' (ex member of Star Band), 'Nicholas Menheim' (associate of 'Youssou N'Dour'), and 'Medoune Diallo'(formerly with 'Orchestre Baobab').

The first two albums were a big success both in Africa and in the rest of the world. Singer Pape Seck died in 1995, and was replaced by 'Gnonnas Pedro' from Benin (who died August 2005) and 'Ronnie Baro' of Orchestra Broadway.

For the latest albums, well known African musicians, such as Tabu 'Ley Rochereau' , 'Kofi Olomide', 'Salif Keita', 'Skouba Bambino', 'Amadou Balak'e; and 'Thionne Seck' were invited. This new constellation led to the new name Africando All Stars. Whilst in the beginning, the songs were Latin classics sung in wolof language or a mix of wolof and spanish, newer songs were African classics, redone with latin rhythms and instrumentation. With both approaches, Africando has been equally successful.

Los Van Van

Los Van Van are one of the most important and influential bands in the history of 20th century Cuban pop music. Though the 1990s were pervaded by groups that mixed folkloric and traditional music with the musical trends of the day, and the beginning of the 21st century saw that process go even further, in the 1960s and '70s that Latino fusion sensibility was scarce at best. There were primarily two Cuban groups experimenting with mixing pop, funk, rock, and soul with their native traditions. One of those two was Irakere, and the other, far more long-lasting band was Los Van Van.


Following the revolution, Cuban youth were profiled for talents and predispositions. Children showing potential in athletics were streamlined into sports. Academics, visual arts, and music followed suit. The young musicians who formed Los Van Van had enjoyed conservatory educations from their earliest years, and were experts in theory and performance by their early twenties. The band's key players -- Juan Formell (bandleader, bass player, and songwriter), César "Pupy" Pedroso (piano, songwriter), and José Luis "Changuito" Quintana (drumset/timbales) were fascinated with the soul, go-go, and disco music that dominated U.S. radio waves. They named their dance band Los Van Van after the go-go fad, meaning literally "they go-go!"


The style that the band pioneered took its name from the cross of son and go-go music that the band had created. The style "songo" can now be found throughout the Latin jazz, pop, and fusion world. Los Van Van's debut disc bore the name, solidifying its place in musical history forever. Shortly after the band's formation, they became the island's favorite dance band, a title they held for years.


With the support of the Cuban government, Los Van Van toured and recorded and toured tirelessly throughout the '80s and '90s. They became the best-known Cuban group in the world, maintaining a loyal fan base throughout Europe. Though there was some U.S. interest in the band and their innovations, the politics of the days hedged their ability to break into the U.S. market. While Irakere defected to States, Los Van Van never left Cuba. U.S. interest grew throughout the '90s, peaking with Los Van Van's Grammy Award in 1999 for their 15th original album, Llegó Van Van.


Many founding members have gone on to become successful bandleaders in their own right. César "Pupy" Pedroso formed his own group, Los Que Son, Son, at the turn of the century. Lúis "Changuito" Quintana left the band in 1993 to pursue a Latin jazz career. Many lesser-known members went on to become some of the most influential players in the timba revolution that came in the early '90s.


Los Van Van are widely recognized as a genre-creating band. Alongside artists like the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, Los Van Van are distinguished as a band that changed the course of popular music for an entire generation. Evan C. Gutierrez, Rovi

Ven Pronto, Ecos Del Pacifico Afro Colombia

Originating from West Africa, we find afro-colombian music on both the pacific and atlantic coasts of Colombia. From Buenaventura and the El Choco region comes the pacific influence, and above the central amercian connection to Panama on the atlantic coast we have caribbean influenced groups from La Guajira To Cartagena.
Although the instruments, bombos, maracas etc., remain virtually the same, we found a faster more frenzied sound and dance with Candela Viva, the 27 piece ensemble from Cartagena, and a slower, more repeti- tive pace with Aires Del Pacifico, a group originally from the "El Choco" region on the southern pacific coast.
On the videos you can see both groups are having a great time performing and playing these percussion oriented songs, with the dances often being physi

STIMELA

Stimela Bio – A Lifetime

The formation of Stimela in the 1970s came about after a meeting of minds between two bands destined to be one. Ray Phiri, a self taught guitarist from Nelspruit and Isaac Mtshali, drummer and son of a traditional healer had formed The Cannibals.

The band started out as instrumentalists, but evolved when Mpharanyane Radebe joined them and laid vocals on songs like ‘My Maria’ and ‘Highland Drifter’ - which although number one for 18 weeks in Zimbabwe - was banned immediately in South Africa. Although Radebe passed on in 1978, the band soldiered on, and in 1980 went on tour with The Movers, led by Jabu Sibumbe and Lloyd Lelosa who had similarly grown up humbly and with music wafting through their homes and flowing through their veins.

This landmark tour of the then Eastern Transvaal would see musical sparks fly and after a few name changes - Kumasi, Splash, Adaye - the band settled on Stimela after a life changing experience in Mozambique. Stranded in Maputo for three months, they eventually sold all their belongings and took a train back home - and it is that train that gave them their name.

They developed quickly, welcoming Charlie Ndlovu that year. From an explosive launch at Turfloop, they went on to perform at Universities around the country and fast gained notoriety for cerebral, provocative and lyrical socially conscious content.

The single “I Hate Telling a Lie” caught fire and raised the interest of Gallo Records who promptly signed them, leading to the recording of their debut album Fire, Passion and Ecstacy which contained the seminal hit “Where did we go Wrong?”

The album went Gold in a month, followed soon by platinum status. By 1983’s Shadows Fear and Pain featuring “Highland Drifter “ - the dreamy, spiritual ode to the triumph of the human spirit above all hardship tangible and elusive, pointing to the hard road towards freedom – their value in our rich musical bounty was clearly reserved. With the addition of the powerhouse voice of Daniel Motjoane (Nana Coyote) from Sankomota and in 1985 the formidable Thapelo Khomo on keys, their momentum was unstoppable.

Among many triumphs, they defied convention and recorded in English – and splashings of the Malawian language Chichewa - when musical recording were strictly monitored for adherence to draconian indigenous language classifications as part of the greater Apartheid divide and rule strategy.

The year Coyote and Khomo joined, they recorded “Whispers in the Deep”, a subtle, yet deeply illuminating indictment of the silence, murmurs and whispers of those afraid to speak out against the injustices of the regime. Featuring Phiri’s tenderness and Coyote’s piercing thunder, there was an optimistic slant to this criticism, an acknowledgement of the inevitable victory and a concession at the collective responsibility towards our own liberation. Predictably, once the powers that be caught on to the song’s political undertones, the song, now popularly known as “Phinda Mzala”, was banned.

The mid ‘80s heralded a moment in the band’s history that will forever be a contentious point of debate, the era of Paul Simon and the album Graceland. Simon met Stimela through Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse after hearing one of their tracks at a Soweto Shebeen. In his quest to revive his flagging career, Simon was in search of salvation in Southern Africa and picked Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela for the Graceland tour to Zimbabwe.

The resultant collaborative album fused his western folk sensibilities with authentic African sounds with Phiri as arranger and guitarist, and Mtshali working extensively on the album in New York. This historic album afforded an opportunity for these musicians to shine a light on the atrocities committed on a daily basis back home. The album went on to win a Grammy for Album of the Year and the title track garnered the Record of the Year Award.

This project was not without its controversy with Simon accused of ignoring the cultural boycott and Phiri’s song “Crazy Love” not credited to him. Despite this, Phiri – who was philosophical about Simon’s betrayal - and Mtshali toured internationally with Graceland between 1987 and 1990, returning periodically to record with the Stimela.

In Phiri’s absence, Coyote took on the lead vocals and Ntokozo Zungu took on the mantle of guitarist in 1987. This era gave birth to the album the Unfinished Story, a phrase which till this day is a rallying cry for Stimela. The album featured “Singa jindi Majita” a rallying song in the vein of the struggle cry of Aluta Continua, at a time when the situation in the country seemed desperate. Resilience took on a new meaning that year, when a tragic accident on the way from Kimberly claimed the lives of seven of the band’s travelling party. Phiri was the sole survivor.

It was never to be the same after that. While Mtshali concluded his tenure with the Graceland project and rejoined Stimela on a full time basis, Phiri committed to Simon for another album (Rhythm of the Saints) and left the band in 1991. The members which remained recorded Don’t ask Why their last album in 1994 on the eve of a new era in our country’s history, a work similarly laden with promise and caution.

That album, however significant, could not serve as the necessary glue to keep them intact as a unit, and they were only to regroup in 2002 - touring the length and breadth of South Africa - when it became clear that what they had represented over the years was much bigger than them and the differences that had torn them apart for all those years.

Eight years after reclaiming their considerable space on the performance circuit and after much cajoling and significant investment from Tumi Mokwena, a young professional with a musical heart and a colossal space in it for the iconic band, they reunited in Polokwane to record a new album, A Lifetime.

This is their first offering since the dawn of democracy and features some illustrious guests in the shape of New York-based South African bassist Bakiti Khumalo, Thandiswa Mazwai, Puff Johnson and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Says Phiri of the project: “The songs chose who was going to play them, if there was a guitar player that was going to play it better than me then why not get them to play? So we called in other musicians.”

The haunting, searing, tantalizingly gruff voice of Coyote on this album is a special blessing given his recent passing and complements a sound at once so familiar yet teeming with all that is raw and fresh about the young spirits which have lent their considerable talents to a project worthy of the legendary South African treasure that is Stimela.

Oliver Mtukudzi

Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi is a Zimbabwean Musician (born September 22, 1952 in Highfield,

Harare).

Gifted with a deep and gusty voice plus a talent for writing songs that reflect on the daily life and struggles of the people, Mtukudzi’s career has spanned more than twenty years. Mtukudzi has produced 42 original albums, most of them bestsellers. But it is his dedication to the live music scene in Zimbabwe - playing to enthusiastic audiences even in the remotest parts of the country - that has earned him the respect and admiration of the people in Zimbabwe. Oliver’s desire to bring his message to a wider audience led him to venture into the worlds of film and stage.

He sings in the nation's dominant Shona language along with Ndebele and English. He also incorporates elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as "Tuku Music". Apart from the individuality of his music, Tuku's enduring popularity has largely resulted from his powers as a lyricist. Most of his songs focus on the social and economic issues that govern people's daily lives. His infectious sense of optimism that pervades all his music, appeals to young and old alike. His commitment to fighting the AIDs pandemic through his open approach to the topic in his songs has contributed greatly to restoring a sense of care and responsibility within the wider community.

As the oldest of seven children, Oliver developed a sense of social and economic responsibility early in life due to the premature death of his father. He is the father of five children and has two grandchildren, two of whom are also musicians. His son Sam Mtukudzi, a successful musician in his own right, died in a car accident in March 2010.

Oliver Mtukudzi has been collaborating with UNICEF Zimbabwe on a number of themes including child and youth participation and HIV prevention. Worth noting is Mtukudzi’s song “Deaf Hear”, especially composed and dedicated to children, at the request of UNICEF Zimbabwe and donated fr

Oliver Mtukudzi-"kushiringinya" Marlow Uk 2012

Salif Keita

Salif Keita, born in 1949 in Djoliba, is sometimes called the Golden Voice of Africa. He is a direct descendent of Sundiata Keita, the Mandinka warrior king who founded the Malian empire in the 13th century. Born an albino - a sign of bad luck - Keita was shunned and ostracized by his family and community alike. His poor eyesight also contributed to his personal sense of alienation. In 1967 he moved to Bamako where he began playing in nightclubs with one of his brothers. Two years later he joined the 16 member, government sponsored Rail Band that played at the Bamako railway station's Buffet Hotel de la Gare - a very choice gig at the time. In 1973 he left the Rail Band along with Kante Manfila (guitarist, composer, and leader of the band) to join Les Ambassadeurs.

By 1977, with Keita and Les Ambassadeurs reputation extending beyond the boundaries of Mali, he was awarded the National Order of Guinea by President Ahmed Sekou Toure. In return, Keita composed Mandjou, telling the history of the Mali people and praising Sekou Toure. This hauntingly beautiful song features Keita's typical sound of guitar, organ, and sax. To see him perform it concert is an occasion you will never forget.

Due to increasing political unrest, Keita left Mali in the mid-'70s for Abidjan, capitol of Cote D'Ivoire (the Ivory Coast), the other members of the band followed suit and they changed the name of the band to Les Ambassadeurs Internationales. By 1984 Keita had relocated to Paris in order to reach a wider, more European audience, where he joined other African stars like Mory Kante, Toure Kunda,Tabu Ley Rochereau, Ray Lema, Papa Wemba, and Manu Dibango among many others. He now lives in the Montreuil section of Paris among the some 15,000 Malians there.

Keita's music blends together the traditional griot music of his Malian childhood with other West African influences from Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal, along with influences from Cuba, Spain, and Portugal, and an unmistakably overall Islamic sound. Besides the aforementioned guitar, organ, and sax, Keita's sound also includes traditional African instruments such as the kora, balafon, and djembe, often synthesized and sampled.

Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela (born Johannesburg, April 4, 1939) is a South African flugelhorn and cornet player. In 1961, as part of the anti-apartheid campaign, he was exiled to the United States where he was befriended by Harry Belafonte. He has played primarily in jazz ensembles, with guest appearances on albums by The Byrds and Paul Simon. In 1987, he had a hit single with “Bring Him Home” which became an anthem for the movement to free Nelson Mandela. After apartheid ended, Masekela returned to South Africa where he now lives.

Hugh Masekela was an old collaborator of Abdullah Ibrahim. He is reported to have been initially inspired in his musical growth by Trevor Huddleston, a British priest working in the South African townships who financed Masekela’s first trumpet. Masekela played his way through the vibrant Sophiatown scene with The Jazz Epistles and to Britain with King Kong, to find himself in New York in the early 1960s. He had hits in the United States with the pop jazz tunes “Up, Up And Away” and the number one smash “Grazin' In the Grass”.

A renewed interest in his African roots led him to collaborate with West and Central African musicians, and finally to reconnect with South African players when he set up a mobile studio in Botswana, just over the South African border, in the 1980s. Here he re-absorbed and re-used Umbaqanga strains, a style he has continued to use since his return to South Africa in the early 1990s.

In the 1980s, he toured with Paul simon in support of Simon’s then controversial, but highly critically acclaimed, album Graceland, which featured other South African artists such as Ladysmith BlackMambazo, Miriam Makeba, Ray Phiri, and other elements of the band Kalahari, which Masekela recorded with in the 1980s. He also collaborated in the musical development for the Broadway play, Sarafina! He previously recorded with the bandKalahari.

In 2003, he was featured in the documentary film Amandla!, about how the music of South Africa aided in the struggle against apartheid. In 2004, he released his autobiography, Grazin’ in The Grass: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela, which thoughtfully details his struggles against apartheid in his homeland, as well as his personal struggles against alcohol addiction from the late 1970s through to the 1990s, a period when he migrated, in his personal recording career, to mbaqanga, jazz/funk, and the blending of South African sounds to an adult contemporary sound through two albums he recorded with Herb Alpert, and notable solo recordings, Techno-Bush (recorded in his studio in Botswana), Tomorrow (featuring the anthem “Bring Him Back Home”), Uptownship (a lush-sounding ode to American R&B), Beatin’ Aroun’ de Bush, Sixty, Time, and most recently, “Revival”.

Ransome Anikulapho Fela Kuti - The African President

african-music-is-high-culture-the-power-of-song-in-the-struggle-for-survival

Anikulapho Ransome Fela Kuti

It's almost impossible to overstate the impact and importance of Fela Anikulapo Ransome Kuti (or just Fela as he's more commonly known) to the global musical village: producer, arranger, musician, political radical, outlaw. He was all that, as well as showman par excellence, inventor of Afro-beat, an unredeemable sexist, and a moody megalomaniac.

His death on August 3, 1997 of complications from AIDS deeply affected musicians and fans internationally, as a musical and sociopolitical voice on a par withBob Marley was silenced. A press release from the United Democratic Front of Nigeria on the occasion of Fela's death noted: "Those who knew you well were insistent that you could never compromise with the evil you had fought all your life. Even though made weak by time and fate, you remained strong in will and never abandoned your goal of a free, democratic, socialist Africa."

This is as succinct a summation of Fela's political agenda as one is likely to find.Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, north of Lagos in 1938, Fela's family was firmly middle class as well as politically active. His father was a pastor (and talented pianist), his mother active in the anti-colonial, anti-military, Nigerian home rule movement.

So at an early age, Fela experienced politics and music in a seamless combination. His parents, however, were less interested in his becoming a musician and more interested in his becoming a doctor, so they packed him off to London in 1958 for what they assumed would be a medical education; instead, Fela registered at Trinity College's school of music.

Tired of studying European composers, Fela formed his first band, Koola Lobitos, in 1961, and quickly became a fixture on the London club scene. He returned to Nigeria in 1963 and started another version of Koola Lobitos that was more influenced by the James Brown-style singing of Geraldo Pina from Sierra Leone.

Combining this with elements of traditional high life and jazz, Fela dubbed this intensely rhythmic hybrid "Afro-beat," partly as critique of African performers whom he felt had turned their backs on their African musical roots in order to emulate current American pop music trends.In 1969, Fela brought Koola Lobitos to Los Angeles to tour and record. They toured America for about eight months using Los Angeles as a home base.

It was while in L.A. that Fela hooked up with a friend, Sandra Isidore, who introduced him to the writings and politics of Malcolm X Eldridge Cleaver (and by extension the Black Panthers), and other proponents of Black nationalism and Afrocentrism. Impressed at what he read, Fela was politically revivified and decided that some changes were in order: first, the name of the band, as Koola Lobitos became Nigeria 70; second, the music would become more politically explicit and critical of the oppression of the powerless worldwide.

After a disagreement with an unscrupulous promoter who turned them in to the Immigration and Naturalization Services, Fela and band were charged with working without work permits. Realizing that time was short before they were sent back to Nigeria, they were able to scrape together some money to record some new songs in L.A.

What came to be known as the '69 Los Angeles Sessions were remarkable, an indication of a maturing sound and of the raucous, propulsive music that was to mark Fela's career. Afrobeat's combination of blaring horn sections, antiphonal vocals, Fela's quasi-rapping pidgin English, and percolating guitars, all wrapped up in a smoldering groove (in the early days driven by the band's brilliant drummer (Tony Allen) that could last nearly an hour, was an intoxicating sound.

Once hooked, it was impossible to get enough.Upon returning to Nigeria, Fela founded a communal compound-cum-recording studio and rehearsal space he called the Kalakuta Republic, and a nightclub, the Shrine. It was during this time that he dropped his given middle name of "Ransome" which he said was a slave name, and took the name "Anikulapo" (meaning "he who carries death in his pouch") .

Playing constantly and recording at a ferocious pace, Fela and band (who were now called Africa 70) became huge stars in West Africa. His biggest fan base, however, was Nigeria's poor. Because his music addressed issues important to the Nigerian underclass (specifically a military government that profited from political exploitation and disenfranchisement),Fela was more than a simply a pop star; like Bob Marley in Jamaica, he was the voice of Nigeria's have-nots, a cultural rebel.

This was something Nigeria's military junta tried to nip in the bud, and from almost the moment he came back to Nigeria up until his death, Fela was hounded, jailed, harassed, and nearly killed by a government determined to silence him. In one of the most egregious acts of violence committed against him, 1,000 Nigerian soldiers attacked his Kalakuta compound in 1977 (the second government-sanctioned attack).Fela suffered a fractured skull as well as other broken bones; his 82-year old mother was thrown from an upstairs window, inflicting injuries that would later prove fatal.

The soldiers set fire to the compound and prevented fire fighters from reaching the area. Fela's recording studio, all his master tapes and musical instruments were destroyed.After the Kalakuta tragedy, Fela briefly lived in exile in Ghana, returning to Nigeria in 1978. In 1979 he formed his own political party, MOP (Movement of the People), and at the start of the new decade renamed his band Egypt 80.

From 1980-1983, Nigeria was under civilian rule, and it was a relatively peaceful period for Fela, who recorded and toured non-stop. Military rule returned in 1983, and in 1984Fela was sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of currency smuggling. With help from Amnesty International, he was freed in 1985.As the '80s ended, Fela recorded blistering attacks against Nigeria's corrupt military government, as well as broadsides aimed at Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (most abrasively on the album Beast Of No Nation).

Never what you would call progressive when it came to relationships with women or patriarchy in general (the fact was that he was sexist in the extreme, which is ironic when you consider that his mother was one of Nigeria's early feminists), he was coming around to the struggles faced by African women, but only just barely.

Stylistically speaking, Fela's music didn't change much during this time, and much of what he recorded, while good, was not as blistering as some of the amazing music he made in the '70s. Still, when a Fela record appeared, it was always worth a listen. He was unusually quiet in the '90s, which may have had something to do with how ill he was; very little new music appeared, but in as great a series of reissues as the planet has ever seen, the London-based Stern's Africa label re-released some of his long unavailable records (including The '69 Los Angeles Sessions), and the seminal works of this remarkable musician were again filling up CD bins.

He never broke big in the U.S. market, and it's hard to imagine him having the same kind of posthumous profile that Marley does, butFela's 50-something releases offer up plenty of remarkable music, and a musical legacy that lives on in the person of his talented son Femi. Around the turn of the millennium, Universal began remastering and reissuing a goodly portion of Fela's many recordings, finally making some of his most important work widely available to American listeners.

Winston "Mankunku" Ngozi

Winston Monwabisi Mankunku Ngozi was born in Retreat, Cape Town in 1943. His musicality emerged early on and was carefully nurtured by his mother, Gertrude. Having experimented with piano and trumpet he took up saxophone in his mid teens. Along with one in three South Africans the Ngozi family was uprooted from their home and relocated to Gugulethu under the notorious Group Areas Act in the early ‘60’s.

By this time however Winston was already gigging extensively and his early influences in Cape Town included Midge Pike, Parks Joya, Cups and Saucers and Merton Barrow. But John Coltrane was perhaps Winston’s greatest source of inspiration and his respect and admiration for ‘Trane’ has endured right through Mankunku’s career to the present day.

South Africa’s Jazz was profoundly affected by Apartheid and as the regime tightened its hold during the 60’s many fine musicians and singers left including for example Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Dudu Pukwana, Johnny Gertze, Bheki Mseleku, Johnny Dyani, Russell Herman and many others.

Musicians at home were discouraged and even prevented from playing together ” across the color line ” and in ‘64 Mankunku did a concert at the Green Point Art Centre under the pseudonym Winston Mann and behind a curtain to avoid possible repercussions! In 1968 he recorded the famous Yakhal’Nkomo album together with Early Mabuza, Agrippa Magwaza and Lionel Pillay.

Although he received the Castle Lager “Jazz Musician of the Year” in the same year, and despite the fact that the album sold well [and still is-it has been re-released at least 3 times] Winston received barely any financial reward. Despite this Mankunku remained in South Africa and by now cynical of the racist — ridden SA Music Industry simply took the music to the people live.

Over the years Mankunku has played with most of SA’s top musicians. To mention just a few: Barney Rachabane,' Chris McGregor, Victor Ntoni, Sammy Hartman, Chris Schilder, Monty Weber, Dollar Brand, Pat Matshikiza, Sandile Shanga, Darius Brubeck, Roger Khosa, The Soul Jazzmen. He has also performed with many international musicians, including: Chick Corea, Jack Van Poll, Dave Young, Joe Henderson, Mike Rossi, Toots Thielemans and Manu Dibango.

Having been introduced in ‘76 by the late Johnny Gertze, Winston worked extensively with pianist\composer Mike Perry in the early 80’s and this led to the recording of the acclaimed album Jika in ‘87 as well as the formation of Winston and Mike’s own label Nkomo Records.

Jika’s wide scope and excellent individual performances ensured its success both at home and abroad. It also contained a strong protest message in songs like Wajikeleza and Asiyapo. Although the general tone of the album is sweet and melodic, to quote a review: Like chilli sauce on an ice cube, Jika was recorded in London as well as Cape Town. Mankunku’s international status grew in the following years.

He toured Germany and the UK with Mike Perry in 1989. He toured Sweden and Norway in 1993. In 1996 he toured Belgium twice with pianist Jack Van Poll. This tour included a memorable set with Toots Thielemans who came on for two songs and ended up playing all night.

After a gap of nearly ten years Winston and Mike teamed up again and released Dudula in 1996. It was recorded in Cape Town. It ranges from the effervescent optimism of Masihambe, which eases one in with a laid back invitation, to the impatient jive of Khawuleza (Hurry Up!). Dudula by Mankunku and Perry is a journey in a sense, with obvious reference to this in the song titles: Masihambe (Lets Go), Dudula (Forward) and Khawuleza (Hurry Up).

And yet the music takes the listener on it’s own journey. It is a positive album, reflecting the social optimism felt in the mid to late 90’s in South Africa. As a whole it is a laid back album, cool music from a hot climate. And yet all the songs exist on very different Levels. Masihambe has an anthem like quality to it, saying ‘Let’s go’ to all the listeners collectively.

It contrasts with the more intimate tracks: Dudula and Shirley, which engage the listener on a personal level, speaking to them on a one to one level. Amanzi Obomi has an essential quality to it accentuated by Errol Dyers guitar.

This is followed by Khawuleza, which evokes a dusty, bustling sticky village street and is the most energetic track on the album. The whole is completed by Green and Gold, a more serious piece, leaving the listener with the understanding of what still has to be achieved in order for it to work out for the best.

Nkomo Records released Molo Africa in 1998, with distribution in areas other than Cape Town being put in the capable hands of Sheer Sound. The first tracks were laid down in November 1997. The album features the hit song ” A Song for Bra Des Tutu," and features a total of 7 all new tracks with guest artists Feya Faku, Tete Mbambisa, Errol Dyers, Basil Moses, Lionel Beukes and Vusi Khumalo, amongst others.

Molo Africa won Winston a South African Music Award at the 1999 5th Annual FNB SAMA ceremony held at Sun City, in the category “Best Traditional Jazz”. “Molo Africa” has been re-released by Sheer Sound in 2002

Winston Mankunku’s latest album ‘Abantwana be Afrika' was recorded in Johannesburg 2003. Featured artists include: Andile Yenana (piano), who also co-produced this album, Herbie Tsoaeli (bass), Prince Lengoasa (Trumpet / Flugelhorn) and Lulu Gontsana (Drums).

Retrospective Rearview-Mirror Hindsight

Developing Talking Musical Cultural/Historical Points And Shifting the Paradigm

African Polyrhythmic-Roots-Rocking-Rhythms:

Any culture does not allow for stagnation; each culture manages to learn from other cultures, but keep itself unique to itself. Many races or people throughout the world perform and manifest their culture whilst maintaining this uniqueness, that which one can discern by interrogating certain aspects of those cultures, like in my case, music.

I have been posting various types of music in their specific genres, and this means that different music is sung in different languages, since the music I post is from different countries, this means that whoever is listening might not understand the language, but the music is universal(that is, the rhythm, sound melodies and the playing of various instrument and different dances), and most them have different musical style, tones and accentuation as do their languages…

But what is important and common about these musical acts and sounds, is that they are being selected from an African centered perspective. Were people to find time and read-upon the origins and histories of these groups, one would be struck at the similarities of experiences experienced by these musicians, in their different countries throughout their different struggles. This is important to note.

If one were to listen to Eldridge cleaver, his issued this aphorism in the same spirit of what I had just discussed above when he informs us that:

"Until Black(African) people as a whole gain power, it's not a question of where you are geographically if you Black [African]; it's a question of where you are psychologically. No matter where you place Black(African) people under preset conditions, they'll still be subject to the whims and decisions of white political, economic and [psychological] apparatus."

Why I am using this citation is the simple reason that we have to begin to understand our situation(musically) not only regionally, nationally or continentally, but look at it from a global perspective. This helps us become more aware and sensitized to this issue of African musical culture is really Global-and if that is hard to conceive, we will not be able to change or shift any existing paradigms that chain us to our colonial past and continued existence.

We will operate with blinkers in a Globe that is Web-driven in its vastness and content. African people cannot Afford dig in into their heels when it is imperative for them to move into and along with the 21 century. This means knowing, learning and understanding the African struggle as it is International in-as-much as it might be local where it is based for each individual or different African societies.

In fact, some of us are so caught-up with trying to be very Europeans in how they imbibe or groove to the music so long it is not their local music, and not African, in many cases. This you can find all over the globe, and it is not unique to one people. But it applies to all the oppressed because most of us have not yet been liberated in ourselves and in our societies. Ourselves are chained to our societies which are incarcerated within a vicious, belligerent, unyielding and coercive Imperial system of domination…

I remember reading somewhere about Duke Ellington that he moved the music which we know as Jazz from "Jungle Music" to what we call Jazz(I guess-bleached sounds). African Music globally is not "Jungle Music," but it is human music. Imagine we have to actually say that and try to qualify and uplift it to the level of it being human-preposterous!

Yet, this is what we, those oppressed around the world, have been sold to, bamboozled with and dumbed-down to the extent that we ignore our music, cultures and so forth, because we are avoiding and ignoring ourselves-as Bob Marley sings: "You Running Away From Yourself…"

Then there is this perception that when one plays or posts African music, they are not 'seriously' carrying out the struggle, or are not with the mainstream of World music. That could not be far from the truth. The Music of any people is the soundtracks of their lives, culture and so on. It is one as breathing is to our lives.

You ignore music that uses a language that you do not understand, or have been conditioned in a sort of "Kraal" enclosure in one's existence by the laws, regulation, tricks, fraud, corruption and use of force that is administered to al those who resist-and if they cave in-they lose; so that, the act of brutal oppression, increased the intensity of the production of radical music as one would breath hard when fighting.

Writing is just like music. One needs to compose it. In the case of writing, you compose whatever it is from social experience-as does music. When as a people you originate ideas and other such things, you become more legit real and edified. You cannot live your life as a duplicate of a manufactured you(self).

One cannot live a life that is not relevant to their concrete lives and existence. You cannot listen to music that does not harken back to ones own social experience. To ignore or refuse to acknowledge that ones music is a pathway to sanity, then, one will be left lallygagging within a sound and musical mix which corrodes their inner core and souls-enslaves and under-develops them.

Just like writing, we develop our musical talking points about music that originates from our musical inner sanctum and soul. To shift paradigms is to totally change a way that is not compatible with ones well-beingness to one that confirms and edifies one. Music appreciation is something one grows up and finds people one is born into listening or playing it.

This also means that, since then it is human music, it compels one to spread one's listening to other different types of music from other cultures diversifying ones preferences and listening/appreciation sensibilities and broadened taste. If what we say amongst ourselves, we do not trust nor believe it, because one of the same oppressed as us is saying it, this debases and obfuscates those so conditioned understanding themselves and developing their cultural-customary and traditional essence.

Therefore then this means that when we begin to listen and participate, imbibe and consume our 'high' culture, musically we will have pressed and shifted a preset, and the negative concrete reality that was an inhibitor to our spiritual, musical, intellectual or otherwise development will be removed.

We can therefore change the way we are conditioned and are made to see, think and behave, appreciate music expected to predictable be. It is in this way that we will see ourselves anew and begin to see the way we are educing ourselves towards unchaining our minds, bodies, souls and spirits.

I for one believe in the emancipation of Africans throughout the world, and music is one way of the many ways of doing it. Another way is cobbling together our musical experiences into a coherent article such as this one to begin to expand and extend our listening range to music we are not familiar with, which can be found in a narrow category of what is called "World Music"(a very vague and generalized concept or term, yet so recognized world-wide.

I choose to simply dub it to be "African Music Systems"- and this is done so as to shift gears in appreciation of this art form-and transplant and implant new ways of looking at, listening to and appreciating African music on its own terms. Africans should 'validate' and 'confirm each to themselves' and not wait for someone to either recognize or box them into meaningless categories.

Thus limiting and making it impossible to even think about nor understand what it really means to deconstruct this colonial mind-set and be able to conjure up new ways of listening, appreciating, composing anew, reconstructing and advancing African music, culture and traditional songs to their rightful place in the world's musical orb through respect, acceptance, acknowledgement and edification.

Africans should dare themselves and explore their African Musical Systems sounds without let-up as part of waging our struggle for psychological, spiritual and psychic liberation of themselves because they are still a people who still have to realize that freedom, liberty and fulfillment of their happiness and well-beingness.

If Africans gave themselves time and opened themselves to the possibility that they have a "high Culture" in their music, their consciousness and actions and appreciations they would change the state and condition of their oppressed and sidelined music systems.

They would stop being people who are spectators(as Biko so pithily concurred) to their daily oppression, depression, dehumanization and suppression that is foisted-upon them so disdainfully and cruelly, and it ends up manifesting itself in their collective midst and psyche and their day-to-day existence so boldly and aggressively.

Also,in a belligerent way-the way in which the detractors of this music aggressively control and condition tis art form throughout their colonized, existence and history up to the current reality, that in the end, an attempt or serious effort at dislodging, shifting of displacing these current deadening and dumbing-down postcolonial paradigms is also pressing as urgent and of critical importance — like any crucial part or point of the Struggle of african people.

Our African music is powerful and soulful, we just need to listen, or take it, for its out there in the musical viral stream.

By listening to the music in this hub and learning about the history of the different genres of African people around the world, and their own personal histories and artists or bands, is one way of dislodging the iron-grip hold that has thus far held it back from morphing into the 21 century, evolving to even much more developed and vibrant and-kaleidocpic-polyrhythmic-syncopated vibes-being able to have a sensitivity in various genres or multiple sound systems.

It is like learning different languages by a lot of professional live musicians, incorporating machine work technology, and mixing it up-as is the case with the showcased videos of different artists-but should be free of being blocked, ignored and relegated to one category that tells one nothing about these African musical genres,forms artists and their musical systems But things are now changing

Change Reinforces The Encrusted Apartheid Past - Wretchedly

Things Change In Soweto Just To Remain The Same

Things Change In Soweto Just To Remain The Same

Post-Aparthied Soweto(South Africa): The Struggle Continues

"Our people need proper housing, not ghettos like Soweto."

These were the words of Nelson Mandela to tens of thousands at Soweto's Soccer City Stadium just one day after his release from 27 years behind bars in 1990.

Soweto, whose name is taken from the first two letters of "South Western Townships", was known as the capital of black South Africa.

Originally established for laborers in western Johannesburg's mines in the late 19 century, it became home to black families forcibly removed from areas around Johannesburg and other parts of the country. Anti-apartheid leaders like Mandela, who celebrated his 94th birthday on Wednesday, lived in Soweto while not in prison.

Today, 18 years after the racist system of governance was brought to an end, Soweto has become a microcosm of the prosperity, poverty and everything in between experienced by the black population of today's South Africa.

"It's very exciting growing up here," said 22-year-old Linda Dludla when we met at a neighborhood butcher shop that doubles as a bar on weekends near his home in Soweto's Senaoane township. "I was born at a time when a new system was being introduced."

Dludla is part of the first generation of blacks to grow up in the early 1990s, when the reconciliation process began and the country transitioned to democracy.

We sat on the park benches outside eating freshly grilled lamb chops, while shouting over the loud locally produced Kwaito tracks that combine house music with more traditional African sounds.

Dludla told me that while HIV, crime, drugs and other issues still plague the community, the government is making efforts by creating jobs. "People feel safer," he said.

Dludla, who said he supported the views of the governing African National Congress (ANC) party, to which Mandela belongs to spoke with pride about being employed as a financial adviser straight out of college.

He speaks comfortably in English, as does nearly everyone in Soweto, in addition to at least two or three native African languages like Zulu and Xhosa.

It was when the apartheid government tried to force Afrikaans into the education system that Sowetan students took to the streets in 1976, in what would later be known as one of the most important events in the struggle against the racist system.

Dludla believes it was those struggles of the generations before him that won blacks their freedom. But for him and many others who are part of a burgeoning black middle class, there are other issues facing Sowetans and black South Africans in general.

"Apartheid was not only an [oppressive political] structure, but a mental breakdown on people here. It made them feel less."

These days, Dludla said, "the government is doing what it can, but we need to meet them halfway".

Black 'prosperity'

In the nearby Kliptown Township, a passenger train runs adjacent to the spacious Water Sisulu Square.

The square, named after Mandela's comrade, also an anti-apartheid activist, was created to commemorate the signing of the 1955 Freedom Charter, promoting the ideas of non-racialism and democracy, by the ANC and other opposition groups. Much of the 1996 constitution, which is considered one of the world's most liberal, resembled the demands in the Freedom Charter.

"Our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities," reads one of the charter's main declarations.

However, just opposite the tracks some 100 meters away are rickety, one-room homes with roofs made from corrugated zinc.

Inside the narrow alleyways where children run shoeless lives 41-year-old Bob Nameng, the founder of Soweto Kliptown Youth (SKY). With long dreadlocks tucked into a cap and a silver cross hanging from his neck, Nameng spoke about growing up on the streets after losing both his parents as a child. He said that had he not met a woman in Kliptown named Mama Eva, he would have remained on the streets.

"She was a mother figure for this whole community, like our Mother Teresa. She gave me a lot, and the only way that I can show her I'm grateful is by the work that I'm doing," Nameng said.

SKY provides shelter to more than 70 black children from impoverished communities in and around Johannesburg. Nameng said he prefers to avoid the term "orphanage," because of the stigma that comes with it. He doesn't want the young people to feel self-pity.

Nameng listed a number of difficulties that Kliptown and other poor Sowetan communities face, and said the government is making little effort to fix them. "The situation is getting worse and worse," he said.

In communities like Soweto, economic development has transformed the area and overshadowed the extreme poverty. The Maponya Mall, which was opened at a ceremony featuring Mandela and other former activists in 2007, the most striking visible representation of this economic growth.

With shops like McDonalds, KFC, Timberland and Levi's, there are few local products at the Maponya Mall aside from the shoppers and a statue at its entrance commemorating the killing of 13-year-old Hector Pieterson, the first casualty of the 1976 uprising.

The mall has received widespread praise as the first of its kind in an area like Soweto, but Nameng isn't excited. "I feel it's a monster, it's swallowed so many small businesses. It's deprived so many poor women and youth a chance to be able to put bread on their table."

He motions to the passing train, saying that most of the poor people from the area now have to travel miles into Johannesburg to find affordable goods that are no longer available in Soweto.

Much of the overcrowding in the townships came during the 1950s, when the apartheid government began implementing the Group Areas Act, transferring non-whites away from areas reserved for whites. Nameng's family was from a racially and culturally diverse area called Sophiatown and was moved to the Meadowlands Township along with thousands of others.

Nameng said that today, the blame is unfairly being placed on the youth for the problems still existing in communities like Soweto. "Everywhere you go young people are being blamed," he said. "But in this country I don't remember a time when youth were given the necessities of life, especially the black youth. There was no compensation after all what has happened in the country."

No reparations were given to black people after apartheid came to an end. Nameng, like many blacks in South Africa, have grown disheartened by the post-apartheid era as most of the country's land and wealth has remained in the hands of the white minority.

"At first we were complaining about the white government, which was the oppressor. Fine, so we've got a black government now in power. What [now]? It's the same old boring song," Nameng said.

'Night is out of bounds'

In Dobsonville, another Soweto township, children blow bubbles and ride bikes past the gated homes of what could easily be an American suburb. It's the weekend and residents hang out in their front yards, some enjoying an icy drink on the warm autumn day, and like nearly everywhere in Soweto on the weekend, the beat of Kwaito and other music resonates somewhere in the background.

It's a joyous attitude in the neighbourhood as the sun slowly disappears behind Johannesburg's hills.

"For my grandchildren, night is out of bounds," said 65-year-old Gloria Majova. "At 6pm I want them home and inside the house."

Majova sits propped up with her two arms on either side of the chair. She speaks passionately, often raising her voice and straightening her back when she talks about protecting her family and how the community struggled against apartheid.

She spoke about raising her kids during apartheid when one of the biggest threats was the police. "When they were around, you could run into any house and you knew you were protected. It used to be like that."

During the transition to democracy, Majova told me about how Sowetan neighborhoods formed street committees. "During that time there was almost zero crime," Majova said. "It lasted for a number of years. The jail in the Eastern Cape, they had to turn into a crafts centre.

"But now [crime] is escalating again. I don't think it's safe anymore in South Africa."

Crime, drug use, HIV and rape continue to be real fears for communities across the country, and especially in densely populated areas like Soweto.

Majova told me about one of her grandsons whom she was surprised to discover was a drug addict. "How he got them, I don't know. But when I opened my eyes he was in jail already." When asked what was causing the crime, Majova said she wasn't sure. "But some would say too much freedom, some would say the foreign people."

She pointed to her neighbours, who have created small spaces to rent out for family or others. "We don't know who is who now."

During apartheid the community would take care of itself, Majova said. "When the police would come in [the neighborhood] while the children were running around the neighbors would give them [girls'] dresses if they were a boy… to confuse the police," Majova said.

Now, Majova said she counts on the police to protect the community.

'Live for tomorrow'

At a typical Friday night street party in the Orlando East township of Soweto, men and women mingled over drinks as some danced under the autumn evening's light rain. Then, out of nowhere, five police trucks appeared from different directions. More than 10 officers jumped out with their automatic rifles drawn at the partygoers.

Some people fled as others raised their arms to show that they were unarmed and unthreatening. The police made their way through the crowd and grabbed a young man who appeared to have been wounded in his leg and ordered him into the back of one of the trucks before speeding off.

As the music continued, a man raised his drink and shouted to me, "Welcome to the hood!" No one seemed to know who the young man was or why he had been taken away, but one person speculated that he was a "tsotsi" (thug) and had been involved in a shootout with police, judging by the wound on his leg.

While most Sowetans seemed happy with the increased police presence, people like Nameng said it was only putting a band-aid on the large problems. "Freedom is something new to us. It means different things to different people. We should work harder and make sure education is number one," Nameng said.

"Then that means we don't live for today, we live for tomorrow."

The Largest Township/Ghetto In Africa

Soweto On Google Map - The Reader of this Hub can go to Google Map and Zoom into the street and walk anywhere throughout the Township

Soweto On Google Map - The Reader of this Hub can go to Google Map and Zoom into the street and walk anywhere throughout the Township

Living For Tomorrow Won't Cut It

The cultural, social and economic wars that are ongoing today in places like Soweto(Former Apartheid Concentration Camps then called Townships[Ghetto]). Things have changed only to worsen. This is the general hue and cry from the armies of the unemployed Africans in Mzantsi. The poor people are demanding that things get better, but no one is there to listen and carry out their pleas.

Living for tomorrow which never comes is the reality and experience of the reality of the people of African descent in Mzantsi. They are the last to be considered for anything(if ever they were considered); intimidation, ignorance, poverty, depression, stress, Diabetes; hypertension, cholera, alcoholism, drug addiction, and underdevelopment in all spheres and facets of their lives, that being the lived reality, is what is happening and taking place as I am onto this Hub at this point.

The generation of those African Youth born after the Apartheid area is in dire straits. The Youth, in essence and reality are oblivious to the danger facing their people. The problem is the breakdown of culture, families, communities, and the Dumbing Down of the poor and jobless by our own elected government. The education and re-culturization of the masses has been left to various entities which have no interest in educating Africans of South Africa. The very elected leaders are in service of some unseen forces and hidden hands/mouth/minds that dictate to these self-styled African leaders who rule over us.

We live in a country today, which caters more to foreigners than the indigene. The diseases, divorces, murders, rapes, car accidents, crime/spousal abuse, children abuse, and children abusing their parents. Community cohesion has been discarded and emptied of any meaning and sense. Music and radio programs are from the US and elsewhere; television is run by cabals, thugs, traitors and ignoramuses; anomie and normlessness the accepted decorum, and corruption, cheating, favoritism, nepotism, petty jealousies, ignorance as to who is who, as gleaned from the article above, is one of the devastating manifestation devouring and destroying the culture, society and existence of a people in a myriad ways.

The thing about the lives and reality of Africans in South Africa is that everyone is knowledgeable about Us Poor Africans and our everything, and we are no knowledgeable nor aware of our own history culture, traditions and sacred rites and practices, politics, society, psychology,Customary traditions, Our own African Languages(which are the same and diverse), music, dances traditional dress and our won social conduct and decorum we know is encapsulated in Ubuntu/Botho and based and premised upon "Inhlonipho"/"Hlompho"(Respect)

The Story of South Africa is still evolving, and one thing as the record keepers of our wretched existence are doing, is to update the condition that we find ourselves in today, with an eye on making true and meaningful change for the suffering masses, which has now become one heavy task that seems insurmountable… But some of us are keeping hope alive and know that with persistence, Meaningful change Soon Come.

That is why Tomorrow is to far away given the immediate decrepit conditions that we have to exist under: confusion, uncertainty, being benignly gullible, meek, clueless, uninformed, miseducated and under-educated, hungry, sick, jobless, rendered utterly useless, reduced to being a spectator in the land of one's birth. This is what we have to deal with in our everyday waking-life. Where we see our lives dry-up like a raisin in the Blistering and oppressive heat of life. If hope be all what I have just described above as a lived real reality of our lot, then there is something terribly and dreadfully wrong with this picture.

This then, is our reality, lived, real or imagined-that's what we have been subjected and reduced to by those who are in cahoots with the Monied Potentates of Mega Super Corporations and Rogue Millionaire governments of the West. Whilst that might be the case, the struggle continues and as we used to say, forward ever, backwards never. Each one reach one, each one teach one.

Zim Ngqawana

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