South African Father of Jazz, Hugh Masekela Goes To Rest At 78

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Masekela, 78, died on Tuesday in South Africa after battling with prostate cancer. "The Masekela family is in our thoughts and prayers during this hard time".

He continued to perform regularly, hosting "Hugh Masekela & Friends Live in Concert" at Montecasino, Johannesburg in 2010, two concerts that in many ways served as an epitaph to his career. On arrival in NY he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music.

He collaborated with many musicians including Paul Simon and Herb Alpert.

Read the tributes that have poured in from politicians and musicians around the world.

With South African playwright Mbongeni Ngema, he composed and arranged the music for "Sarafina!", which opened in New York in 1987 - transforming "the oppression of black townships", New York Times theater critic Frank Rich wrote in a review, "into liberating singing and dancing that almost raises the theater's roof".

In the 1960s Masekela went into exile in the United Kingdom and the United States, using his music to spread awareness about South Africa's system of white-minority rule. As a child, he began singing and playing piano and was largely raised by his grandmother, who ran an illegal bar for miners.

Born in the South African town of Witbank in 1939, Masekela was inspired to learn the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in the 1950 film "Young Man with a Horn".

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According to his official biography, fellow jazz trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong encouraged Masekela to develop his own unique style, feeding off African rather than American influences.

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Growing violence and turmoil had led Masekela to leave South Africa in 1960 for exile in England and then the US, where he continued to reach a larger audience, appearing with the likes of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix at the famous 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

The video for this song, written by the U.S.'s foremost modern folk musician, holds so much that was dear to Masekela: pure love for a member of his close community; a rootsy mbaqanga backbone; an emotional reminder of life under and against apartheid, and Masekela's unmissable trumpet and voice. An inspiration, a mentor.We shall continue with the baton.

Besides the many awards Masekela has won, he has been nominated three times for a Grammy Award including a nomination for Best World Music Album for his 2012 album Jabulani, Best Musical Cast Show Album for Sarafina!

In 1990, Hugh Masekela finally returned home to South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela and the overthrow of the apartheid regime.

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