Trumpeter Hugh Masekela is dead

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Legendary South African trumpeter, composer and singer Hugh Masekela has died at age 78 in Johannesburg.

According to a statement released by his family, the trumpeter passed after a battle with prostate cancer.

In October 2017, the trumpeter’s team released a statement saying he was battling prostate cancer.

The jazz veteran underwent eye surgery in March 2016 after the cancer spread, and had to go into theatre again in September 2016 after another tumour was discovered.

In December, Masekela’s manager, Josh Georgiou, told TshisaLIVE his client was fighting the disease with everything he had.

Hugh Masekela who is considered the father of South African jazz is well known for his jazz compositions among which is anti-apartheid songs such as “Soweto blues” and “Bring him back home.”

The composer who was born in KwaGuqa township in Witbank South Africa began singing and playing the piano as a child.

At the age of 14, he began playing the trumpet with his first trumpet that was given to him by Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, an anti-apartheid chaplain.

In 1956 Hugh joined the Alfred Herbet’s African Jazz Revue, and his music was inspired by the turmoil that South Africa went through during apartheid, pointing out that his music was a weapon to spread political change.

In 2009, Masekela released the album Phola, meaning “to get well, to heal”, his second recording for Times Square Records.

Masekela was featured, with his son Selema Masekela, in a series of videos on ESPN.

The series, called Umlando – “Through My Father’s Eyes, was aired in 10 parts during ESPN’s coverage of the FIFI World Cup in South Africa.

The series focused on Hugh and Selema’s travels through South Africa, and Hugh brought his son to the places he grew up.

In December 2013, Masekela guested with the Dave Matthews Band in Johannesburg, South Africa.

He also joined Rashawn Ross on trumpet for “Proudest Monkey” and “Grazing in the Grass”.

In 2016, at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg, Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim performed together for the first time in 60 years, reuniting the Jazz Epistles in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the historic 16 June 1976 youth demonstrations.


ABOUT: Nana Kwesi Coomson

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A Freelance Journalist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of A contributory writer for Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. He is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow (YALI) who studied at Clark Atlanta University on the Business and Entrepreneurship track. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morgan

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