The Godfather of South African Jazz

The Godfather of South African Jazz

Hugh Masekela, the South African jazz musician and political activist, died on January 23rd after a long battle with prostate cancer at the age of 78 in Johannesburg. Masekela was known in particular for his hit song “Grazin’ in the Grass” which was his first number one single on American charts. Over the years Masekela performed with famous artists like Otis Redding, Harry Belafonte and Jimi Hendrix.

Throughout his life, Masekela fought against the apartheid rule in his home country. His album “Trumpet Africaine” focused entirely on an anti-apartheid message. A true bastion of racial equality, Masekela fought against his oppressors and used the chains of apartheid to craft a truly beautiful and uplifting message through his music during his over forty-year career. Along with his musical achievements, he served on the board of the Lunchbox Fund which aims to provide daily meals to children in Soweto, South Africa.

The death of such a monumental figure for a country that has tangled with the issue of racism throughout its history will not doubt impact the people who have followed the ideals of Masekela but the teachings and music that he has left will no doubt continue to live on in the world.