JOHANNESBURG — Miriam Makeba, the South African singer who wooed the world with her sultry voice but was banned from her own country for 30 years under apartheid, died after a concert in Italy. She was 76.
In her dazzling career, Makeba performed with musical legends from around the world — jazz maestros Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon — and sang for world leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.
She was also the first African woman to win a Grammy award.
The Pineta Grande clinic in Castel Volturno, near the southern city of Naples, said Makeba died of a heart attack early Monday.
Town Mayor Francesco Nuzzo said Makeba collapsed late Sunday at the end of a concert against organized crime, which has been blamed for the local massacre in September of six immigrants from Ghana.
Makeba had not looked well as she visited an immigrant aid centre in Castel Volturno early Sunday afternoon, the mayor said.
The death of “Mama Africa,” as she was known, plunged South Africa into shock and mourning.
“One of the greatest songstresses of our time has ceased to sing,” Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said in a statement.
“Throughout her life, Mama Makeba communicated a positive message to the world about the struggle of the people of South Africa and the certainty of victory over the dark forces of apartheid and colonialism through the art of song.”
Makeba wrote in her 1987 memoirs that friends and relatives who first encouraged her to perform compared her voice to that of a nightingale. With her distinctive style combining jazz with folk with South African township rhythms, she was often called “The Empress of African Song.”
She first started singing in Sophiatown, a cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Johannesburg that was a cultural hot spot in the 1950s before its black residents were forcibly removed by the apartheid government.
“I never understood why I couldn’t come home,” Ms. Makeba said upon her return at an emotional homecoming in Johannesburg in 1990 as the apartheid system began to crumble, according to The Associated Press. “I never committed any crime.”
Ms. Makeba wrote in 1987: “I kept my culture. I kept the music of my roots. Through my music I became this voice and image of Africa, and the people, without even realizing.”
The rapper Jay-Z's position at the top of the Glastonbury bill has notoriously riled the likes of Noel Gallagher of Oasis, who implied it was the sort of thing that would never have happened in his heyday. 'I'm sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance,' guitarist Gallagher complained in April. 'Glastonbury has the tradition of guitar music ... I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong.'
Last night, before an adoring crowd, Jay-Z gave his response. As he took to the legendary Pyramid stage, vast video screens played images of Gallagher's criticism of the rapper, triggering a massive chorus of jeers aimed at the Mancunian guitarist. That was only the beginning. The rapper's opening track was a cover of Wonderwall, arguably Oasis's most famous track. Some sang along, most just chanted the rapper's name. 'How good was that intro?' said Liz Walters, 25. 'He's amazing.'
The next tour de force was a cover of Rehab by Amy Winehouse. 'For those that didn't get the memo my name is Jay-Z and I'm pretty fucking awesome,' hollered the triumphant rapper.
No question here. Mr. Jay-Z sir. Talk about flipping it.
For this I'm afraid we have no choice but to invite him to be this week's GHN Weekly Musical Guest:
Now I don't recall ever giving a shit about The Grammys and this year was certainly destined to be no different until I noticed a story about the great Amy Winehouse on the old TV last night while watching some CNN at my buddy's house after the Raptors game.
If they are going to treat you like that than they can have you on your terms Amy. Baby. Stay in your hometown and let them watch you on the big screen. This is shaping up to be an absolutely delicious rock and roll drama perfectly suited to and for an artist of Amy Winehouse's stature. Diva - for sure. In the best definition of the word. The girl just can't help it. She is just one of those decadent, dark and dangerous, immensely talented figures of which the world of rock and roll has been so sorely lacking of late; with a voice far beyond her years and a singing style that can bring to your knees.
Whether or not she will perform her break out hit Rehab - I have no idea. And whether not such a choice would be just too obvious, or perfectly, brilliantly triumphant, so befitting the deep irony of the occasion - I really have no idea.
I'm sure she'll do the right thing. Or better yet, maybe not.
We think she's good for us and wish her only good health.
And so we wish her all the best tomorrow and into the future. We love the fact that by staying in England she basically told the Grammys and the American government to go fuck themselves.
And we proudly welcome her this week as GHN's Weekly Musical Guest:
Okay. Perhaps I was a little off the mark with the "go fuck themselves" thing, but you know, it felt good. My cultural commentary may be on par with my political punditry, but I persevere.
It appears that Amy cleaned up winning five awards, as if that was ever in doubt. I'm sure our endorsement pushed her over the top. I had the show on in the background last night and her performance was easily the most exciting, only interesting thing on that dreary broadcast.
If even the good people over at Rapture Ready can't agree that Jesus was actually born on December 25th, and if there is plenty of argument to be made and historical evidence to back up the fact that our reasons for celebration at this time of year basically extend from our ancient pagan traditions, then it seems to me that the actual justification that we use and place over this sacred winter festival can be as arbitrary as anything else.
And that is why I hereby propose that from here on in the day of December 25th be recognized as the Anniversary of the Death of James Brown. The Godfather of Soul. Who died on this day - Christmas Day - last year. December 25, 2006.
Beginning this year. Yes indeed. That's right.
Year One A.J.B. Year One. After James Brown.
The dawning of a whole new era. The beginning of New Time. Maybe even a new calender.
That's right. Pretty exciting. It's basically an idea that we have stolen from Crooks and Liars and their Late Night Music Club, but such is the nature of the web. We hope they take it in the spirit that it is offered. It also give us the opportunity to mine the musical goldmine that has evolved over at Youtube, instead of just sending cool videos to our friends who may or not really want to see them.
And you may also notice that the subtitle up on the marquee has now changed to include - Culture. That's right. Global Health, Politics, and Culture. Look out. 'Cause now we've got it covered. We figured since that not that many people were reading this blog to start with, beyond of course our beloved, bold, brilliant, deeply cherished, intrepid happy few, that we might as well go ahead and write whatever we want, on whatever we want. We're just trying to spice things up around here, as we continue the search our sea legs, and our real blogging voice.
We hope its okay. And we assure you that our global health and politics will not suffer, but will only be inspired to go further and deeper.
And rest assured that this is no sop to the youth. Nor no bullshit E-talk Daily type thing. Our cultural coverage will be only the most vital. The most necessary. Of that you have our word.
Culture and Civilization.
And thus we begin tonight with our first Weekly Musical Guest. Which will be, of course, who else?
Ladies and gentlemen, (quite possibly the best video on all of Youtube), the Godfather of Soul himself,