South Africa’s Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathu Mthethwa, Twitted, Tuesday, a sad news to millions of Afro-Jazz lovers across the world with the announcement of the death of compatriot Hugh Masekela, the trumpeter, jazz artist and music legend. Aged 78, he died of prolonged prostrate cancer.
According to Mthethwa, “A baobab tree has fallen, the nation has lost a one of a kind musician with the passing of Jazz legend bra Hugh Masekela. We can safely say bra Hugh was one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz and he uplifted the soul of our nation through his timeless music”.
Masekela was introduced to the trumpet in 1954 when he got it as a gift from another Jazz legend, Louis Armstrong. He was a contemporary of another of Africa’s great Afro-Jazz artiste, Nigeria’s late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Together with Fela and another Jazz artiste with a blend of local music called Makossa, Cameroon’s Manu Dibango, Afro-Jazz was a force to reckon with in the world of music because of the originality and creative imagination of these masters. His passing appears to have brought a close and possibly the opening of another chapter in that genre.
Masekela’s classic, Grazing In The Grass topped the Billboard Hot 100. He was the first African male Grammy nominee (1968). He won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the CHOMVA, Ghana Music Awards, Jazz FM Awards and MAMAs.