Last June, Crossroads launched an exciting and inspiring new series in music and
theatre, “Our Heritage in Jazz”. It featured the works and life stories of musical icons,
Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. This season, we celebrate the anniversary of the New
South Africa, the birth of a new free nation as Nelson Mandela became its first Black
president exactly 30 years ago. And to do this, “Our Heritage in Jazz” will feature the
music and stories of global megastars, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.
Miriam Makeba, known as “Mama Africa”, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress,
and civil rights activist known for Afropop, jazz and world music. She was celebrated in the
United States and around the world, especially after she released several albums and songs,
her most popular being "Pata Pata" (1967). Along with Harry Belafonte, she received a Grammy
Award for Best Folk Recording for their 1965 album An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba.
Hugh Masekela was a legendary South African jazz musician who scored an unlikely No. 1 hit
on the Billboard chart with his song "Grazing in the Grass" and who collaborated with artists
ranging from Harry Belafonte to Paul Simon, Herb Alpert, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, and his ex-
wife, Miriam Makeba. "Bra Hugh," as he was fondly known, was exiled from his native country
for 30 years, but became a leading international voice against apartheid.