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Miriam Makeba Biography

Miriam Makeba Tickets

Miriam Makeba In-depth Biography

Following a three decade long exile, Miriam Makeba}'s return to South Africa was celebrated as though a queen was restoring her monarchy. The response was fitting as Makeba} remains the most important female vocalist to emerge out of South Africa. Hailed as The Empress Of African Song and Mama Africa, Makeba} helped bring African music to a global audience in the 1960s. Nearly five decades after her debut with the Manhattan Brothers}, she continues to play an important role in the growth of African music.

Makeba}'s life has been consistently marked by struggle. As the daughter of a sangoma, a mystical traditional healer of the Xhosa tribe, she spent six months of her birth year in jail with her mother. Gifted with a dynamic vocal tone, Makeba} recorded her debut single, "Lakutshona Llange,"} as a member of the Manhattan Brothers} in 1953. Although she left to form an all-female group named the Skylarks} in 1958, she reunited with members of the Manhattan Brothers} when she accepted the lead female role in a musical version of King Kong}, which told the tragic tale of Black African boxer, {%Ezekiel "King Kong" Dlamani}, in 1959. The same year, she began an 18 month tour of South Africa with Alf Herbert}'s musical extravaganza, African Jazz And Variety}, and made an appearance in a documentary film, Come Back Africa}. These successes led to invitations to perform in Europe and the United States.

Makeba} was embraced by the African-American community. "Pata Pata,"} Makeba}'s signature tune was written by Dorothy Masuka} and recorded in South Africa in 1956 before eventually becoming a major hit in the U.S. in 1967. In late-1959, she performed for four weeks at the Village Vanguard} in New York. She later made a guest appearance during Harry Belafonte}'s ground-breaking concerts at Carnegie Hall}. A double-album of the event, released in 1960, received a Grammy award. Makeba} has continued to periodically renew her collaboration with Belafonte}, releasing an album in 1972 titled Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte}. Makeba} then made a special guest appearance at the Harry Belafonte} Tribute at Madison Square Garden} in 1997.

Makeba}'s successes as a vocalist were also balanced by her outspoken views about apartheid. In 1960, the government of South Africa revoked her citizenship. For the next thirty years, she was forced to be a 'citizen of the world.' Makeba} received the {%Dag Hammerskjold} Peace Prize in 1968. After marrying radical Black activist {%Stokely Carmichael}, many of her concerts were cancelled, and her recording contract with RCA} was dropped, resulting in even more problems for the artist. She eventually relocated to Guinea at the invitation of president {%Sekou Toure} and agreed to serve as Guinea's delegate to the United Nations. In 1964 and 1975, she addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on the horrors of apartheid.

Makeba} remained active as a musician over the years. In 1975, she recorded an album, A Promise}, with Joe Sample}, Stix Hooper}, Arthur Adams}, and David T. Walker} of the Crusaders}. Makeba} joined Paul Simon} and South Africa 's Ladysmith Black Mambazo} during their world-wide Graceland tour in 1987 and 1988. Two years later, she joined Odetta} and Nina Simone} for the One Nation tour.

Makeba} published her autobiography, Miriam: My Story}, in English in 1988 and had it subsequently translated and published in German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. Following {%Nelson Mandela}'s release from prison, Makeba} returned to South Africa in December 1990. She performed her first concert in her homeland in thirty years in April 1991. Makeba} appeared in South African award-winning musical, Sarafina}, in the role of {%Sarafina}'s mother in 1992. Two years later, she reunited with her first husband, trumpeter Hugh Masekela}, for the Tour Of Hope tour. In 1995, Makeba} formed a charity organization to raise funds to help protect the women of South Africa. The same year, she performed at the Vatican's Nevi Hall} during a world-wide broadcasted show, Christmas In The Vatican}. Makeba}'s first studio album in a decade, Homeland}, was released in 2000. ~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide

Miriam Makeba Biography / Miriam Makeba Information

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