Miriam Makeba – the most widely acclaimed singer from the continent of Africa – died last night in Italy, where she had just performed at a benefit concert. She was 76.
The International Herald Tribune obituary is here.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Ms. Makeba gained national attention during the 1950s as a featured vocalist with the Manhattan Brothers.
But the apartheid government revoked Makeba’s passport while the singer was overseas, starring in a stage musical. Makeba spent the next three decades in exile. With Harry Belafonte’s help, she became a star in the United States... and a prominent critic of apartheid.
Nelson Mandela encouraged Ms. Makeba to return to South Africa in 1990. At the time of her death, she was South Africa’s goodwill ambassador to the world.
In honor of Miriam Makeba, I’m streaming two of her recordings from 1970.
Click here to hear her version of Van Morrison’s “Brand New Day” on my Vox blog.
Then click here for a live concert performance of “Malcolm X,” written by Makeba’s only child, her late daughter Bongi Makeba. This was recorded in Conakry, the capital of Guinea.
Below is a clip from the documentary “Come Back, Africa,” filmed in 1959. It shows Makeba singing in South Africa before her exile.