Just days after the Cape Town Jazz Festival – arguably South Africa’s biggest jazz bash of the year – legend Hugh Masekela has gone global on the Google’s daily doodle! It’s the perfect time to read up on the “father of South African jazz.”
Bra Hugh’s place in jazz history is undeniable, but his story is particularly special in the context of South African swing. The story of how Masekela got his start in Sophiatown, playing a trumpet sent from Louis Armstrong himself, is now legend. He was a relative youngster at the height of the Sophiatown swing popularity when jazz greats like Dolly Rathebe and The Manhattan Brothers reigned. Still, Masekela was well in the mix, playing in the stage orchestra for the renowned King Kong musical beside the likes of other SA jazz masters like Kippie Moeketsi and Jonas Gwangwa.
Of course, this was just the beginning for Masekela, who, along with Miriam Makeba, became the most internationally acclaimed South African jazz artist of our time. He passed away just last year, in January 2018 at the age of 78. His legacy will forever be his definition of a purely and proudly South African jazz genre and his career-long crusade to restore and preserve African heritage.