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South African Miriam Makeba dies at 76

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Miriam Makeba

The 76 year old Singer and activist was found collapsed on stage Sunday night after singing one of her most famous hits “Pata Pata,” in a concert for Roberto Saviano, a writer threatened with death by the Mafia over his expose “Gomorrah.” Her last performance was a half-hour set alongside other singers and artists.The Pineta Grande clinic in Castel Volturno, near the southern city of Naples, said Makeba died early Monday of a heart attack. Her grandson, Nelson Lumumba Lee, was with her as well as her longtime friend, Italian promoter Roberto Meglioli, the Associated Press reports.

Makeba’s publicist, Cape Town-based Marc le Chat, has confirmed that the singer had been struggling with arthritis over the past years but had still been accepting key live dates.

“Whilst this great lady was alive she would say: ‘I will sing until the last day of my life’,” her family said in a statement.

“Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and dislocation which she felt for 31 long years. At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us,” Mandela said in a statement

Makeba was well known throughout the world as the Mama Africa and the Empress of African Song. The first African woman to win a Grammy award, Makeba started singing in Sophiatown as a featured vocalist with the Manhattan Brothers in 1954, a cosmopolitan neighborhood of Johannesburg that was a cultural hotspot in the 1950s before its black residents were forcibly removed by the apartheid government. She later formed her own group, the Skylarks while touring Southern Africa with Alf Herberts’ African Jazz and Variety. In 1959, Makeba’s incredible voice help win her the role of the female lead in the show, King Kong, a Broadway-inspired South African musical. That same year, she starred in the anti-apartheid documentary “Come Back, Africa,” which led to a meeting with Harry Belafonte, who helped Makeba gain entry to the United States. In 1963 she testified about apartheid before the United Nations. The South African government responded by banning her records, including hits like “Pata Pata,” “The Click Song” (“Qongqothwane” in Xhosa), and “Malaika” and revoking her citizship and right of return.

Her close relationship with Belafonte opened up new opportunities including a performance for President Kennedy at his birthday party in 1962. In 1966, Makeba received the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording together with Belafonte for “An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba.” The album dealt with the political plight of black South Africans under apartheid. But she fell briefly out of favor when she married Black Panther activist Stokely Carmichael — later known as Kwame Ture — and moved to Guinea in the late 1960s.

Makeba returned to world prominence when she performed with Paul Simon on the Graceland tour. After three decades abroad, she was invited back to South Africa as a free South African by Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon, shortly after his release from prison in 1990 as white racist rule crumbled. “It was like a revival,” she said about going home. “My music having been banned for so long, that people still felt the same way about me was too much for me. I just went home and I cried.”

In an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper earlier this year she said “People think I consciously decided to tell the world what was happening in South Africa. No! I was singing about my life, and in South Africa we always sang about what was happening to us — especially the things that hurt us.”

Makeba announced her retirement three years ago, but despite a series of farewell concerts she never stopped performing. When she turned 75 last year, she said she would sing for as long as possible.

Makeba is survived by her grandchildren, Nelson Lumumba Lee and Zenzi Monique Lee, and her great-grandchildren Lindelani, Ayanda and Kwame.


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Celebrities

Soweto Gospel Choir Beat Three African Nominees to Win Third Grammy

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The annual Grammy Award is a celebration of music achievements in over 80 categories. Of all the categories, the Best World Music Album is reserved for international performers exhibiting “non-European, indigenous traditions”. Four African Albums were nominated for this category in the 61st Grammy Award. This includes;

‘Black Times’ by Seun Kuti – You can get the album here

‘Fenfo’ by Fatoumata Diawara – you can get the album here

‘Deran’ by Bombino – you can get the album here

‘Freedom’ by the Soweto Gospel Choir – you can get it here

However, it was the Soweto Gospel Choir that took home the award for their album, Freedom.

The annual celebration for the coveted award took place on Sunday 10th February 2019. However, this is not the first time that the group will be taking home the award. In fact, it is their third win in five nominations. The album ‘Freedom’ is a rendition of popular South African liberation struggle songs. Mulalo and Mary Mulovhedzi, and album producer Diniloxolo Ndlakuse Shimmy Jiyane were on stage to receive the award on behalf of the group.

poses in the press room during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Interesting details about the album

The Choir recorded the album in June 2018 as a tribute to Nelson Mandela’s 100 Years celebration. Nelson Mandela died in 2013 at the age of 95. The album is a collection of famous South African struggle songs. A worthy inclusion in the album is a brilliant version of ‘Asimbonanga’ by Johnny Clegg. The album release happened in the United States in 2018. The group also completed a three-month tour in the United States. The group will perform songs from the album in Cape Town Jazz Festival coming up in March. Soweto Gospel Choir also plans Australasia album tour from July to September 2019.

History and previous awards

David Mulovhedsi co-founded the group with Beverly Bryer, a producer, and director 17 years ago. The group won the Grammy in ‘Best Traditional World Music Album’ category in 2007. In 2008 they also took home the award in the same category for their album ‘African Spirit’. The win at the just-concluded 61st Grammy Award makes it their third. The group has also won the Metro FM Music Award and four South African Music Awards. Soweto Gospel Choir’s collaboration with pop icon U2 also won the Emmy.

The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa took to Twitter to congratulate the group for their win. He wrote,

“Congratulations to the Soweto Gospel Choir for being awarded the Best World Music album for ‘Freedom’ at the #Grammys. This is the choir’s third Grammy award and we thank them for telling our story to the world and flying the flag high.”

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Celebrities

Davido Is Second Nigerian Artist To Sell Out The 20000 Seat London O2 Arena

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Musicians always strive to increase their fanbase. The multiple award-winning superstar David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido recently sold out the O2 Arena, London. Although the artist frequently performs in front of large audiences, selling out the O2 Arena is a big deal. Most importantly, it shows the appreciation of his music abroad.

On the night of January 27, 2019, he thrilled a crowd of about 20,000 fans. His energetic performance cuts across old and new hit songs. Celebrities at the event include Naomi Campbell, Tim Westwood, and the Editor of British Vogue magazine Edward Enninful. Idris Elba was on stage to introduce the superstar. In 2018 Wizkid’s AfroRepublik concert sold out the same venue. Davido made it clear that it was also his dream to achieve the same feat. Besides Davido and Wizkid, only a few artists in Africa can boast of the same achievement. Therefore, artists who do consider it a great milestone.

A recap of what happened at the event

First of all, international DJ Tim Westwood and Nigerian DJ Ecool entertained the crowd in preparation for the main event. Thereafter, rising artists like Dremo, Idowest, Mayorkun, Yonda, and Zlatan thrilled the fan. These artists are all signed to the DMW record label owned by Davido. Other artists on stage to support the superstar were Victor AD and Tomi Agape.

After Davido’s introduction by Idris Elba, he appeared on stage on a suspended platform. The superstar got loud cheers from his eagerly anticipating fans. All the artists who performed that night were exceptional. However, the overwhelming cheer made it clear who the audience wanted to see. He cranked up his performance with his smash hit ‘Aye’ before switching to other hit songs. Some of the songs he performed include ‘Assurance’, ‘Dami Duro’, ‘Fall’ and ‘If’. While performing ‘Assurance’, he brought his girlfriend to the stage. The lovebirds shared a passionate kiss to the admiration of fans.

A proud display of cultural heritage

Davido is one artist that is proud of his identity and we love it!

He appeared on stage rocking the hand-beaded bomber jacket created by the OKUNOREN brothers, Taiwo and Kehinde. The brothers started the brand in 2002 importing men’s wear.  However, many years later, they revolutionized the brand to focus more on local content. The dark jacket was creatively designed using colorful beads. Speaking about the jacket the brothers said,

This is a piece from the sacred yet to be released collection. The creation of the collection requires a deep understanding of the divinity of the Yoruba people.”

This is not the first time Davido is proudly displaying his Yoruba heritage. He frequently speaks about his local food in interviews. This may be because the Yorubas are naturally inclined to their culture. The Yorubas are one of the three dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria. They dominate the South-western part of the country.

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Arts & Culture

Janet Jackson gives off a Wakanda vibe in her new song with Daddy Yankee

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Its touchdown people! She did it again! one of the most amazing artist of all times, yours truly Janet Jackson has done another masterpiece alongside Daddy Yankee.  This time she brings the Wakanda vibe to life in a vibrant colorful display of artistry and entertainment.

The addictive melody and colorful afrocentric pieces had me in my closet pulling out my ankara dress and move to the beat in pure celebration of the lighthearted joy that this song brings. The melody will have you dancing no matter who or where you are. All you have to do is listen with your heart and feel the positive energy flowing from the sound.The images and actions speak for themselves,they tell a beautiful story.Yes we all are made for now! Almost everyone in the video is dressed in African fabric,with different colors and patterns.

Watch the Video Here 

From shorts, to gowns, to jackets and shirts – quite the combination too. She went all out with the scarfs and exotic necklaces, all designed to suit her visually captivating style.

If you think that is awesome check out the accessories in the video. What! The different necklaces used  says beauty, royalty, strength and confidence. Daddy Yankee rolled with the vibe too.

Did you see the car yet? if you didn’t notice, it has an African design to it. The graffiti designs on the wall, the contagious dance moves from the entire crew … Everything about this song says gives a Wakanda flavor. The only missing piece was the Wakanda greeting,  if you know what i mean.

'If you're livin' for the moment Don't stop, and celebrate the feelin' Go up, if you're livin' for the moment Don't stop, 'cause there ain't no ceilings Go up' - Made for now by Janet Jackson Click To Tweet

The song talks of a people, a culture, a love so strong nothing else matters. And unity is strength which means it is time to join together and seize the moment. No waiting for tomorrow because we are all made for now!!! 

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