AMP homeEventsSpecial featuresRecommended cdsRecommended readingVarious photosContact AMPRelevant links
Hugh Masekela

Trumpeter, vocalist, song-writer and global ambassador for black South African culture and politics, Hugh Masekela has a vast number of achievements. Born in 1939 near Johannesburg, Hugh had an uncle who had a great influence on him musically. Hugh was obsessed with the music he heard around him, whether it was traditional or jazz from America. He learnt to play the trumpet which, aged 14, he was given by Archbishop Trevor Huddleston. Then he and some school mates formed the Huddleston Jazz Band. In the late 1950s Hugh played in the orchestra of the famous musical 'King-Kong' staged in South Africa and in London for 2 years. Hugh also joined African Jazz Revue and in the late 1950s recorded the first album by a black South African jazz band, the Jazz Epistles with pianist Dollar Brand (who is now called Abdullah Ibrahim), Kippie Moeketsi and others.
It became impossible for Hugh to remain in South Africa in the turbulent conditions of apartheid - in 1960 he left for Britain and joined the Guildhall School of Music in London. After that he moved to USA and studied at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, working with Miriam Makeba (to whom he was married in the 1960s), Harry Belafonte, Dizzie Gillespie and Herp Albert.
In the 1960s Hugh started his own record label 'Chisa' and went on to make recordings, starting with The Americanization of Ooga-Booga and then Promise of a Future which includes 'Grazing in the Grass', a huge hit which is still very popular. Still Grazing (2004) is the title of Hugh's very detailed and frank autobiography which also contains wonderful photos.
Hugh became internationally famous in the 1970s but being very homesick he didn't want to remain in USA. Returning to South Africa was impossible so instead he went on a pilgrimage to several other African countries - Guinea, Ghana, Zaire and Nigeria. At that time Hugh met up with Fela Kuti (Hugh has a special love for