Miriam Makeba

I absolutely adored Miriam Makeba and was saddened to hear that she passed earlier this week. I wanted to share with my community this email that I just sent to Africapop.com to reflect on her value in my life.

Dear Sean,
I am so delighted to read your email, I was so personally saddened to learn of the news of Miriam Makeba's death. I was so touched and sad.
I was born in Trinidad with parents of Grenadian decent. My mother loved Miriam's music and it is probably the only music that I clearly remember from my childhood. Miriam Makeba's music is the music of my soul, its melodies, rhythms and lyrics touch my heart and my soul in a way that no other music ever has. I can still remember that "click-click' song. She is an icon for me, maybe the way African American's may love Billie Holiday, Miriam Makeba was my icon, my vision of beauty. She was a positive beautiful black woman and it made me proud and comforted me to think of her.
I am actually going to go on Amazon and search for those recordings of my childhood today. I believe that my brother gifted me with her book a few years ago. I am committed to finding it and reading it.
Thank you for asking,

Afropop Encourages You to Reflect on life & times of Miriam Makeba

As you probably know, Miriam Makeba, one of Africa’s all-time great artists, ambassador for the continent, and pioneering political activist, died on Sunday. There are dozens of career summaries and press reports published (google “Miriam Makeba Dies at 76”). We are asking the SVN community to send in your own reflections or memories of this extraordinary artist. We will publish them later in the week on Afropop.org and send them to the Makeba family. For the story of her life in her own words, I highly recommend her autobiography “Makeba, My Story.” Two of my favorite albums from the latter part of her career are “Sangoma” and “Homeland.”

Sean Barlow, Exec. Producer: “The last time I saw Miriam perform was in Soweto on Easter Monday 2004. I was in South Africa reporting on the tenth anniversary of the end of apartheid and the beginning of the new non-racial democracy spotlighted by the inauguration of Nelson Mandela. The theme of the concert in Soweto that day was “South African Divas” and featured the greats of South African women singers. The crowd was almost entirely black and we felt very much welcomed. I felt so lucky to be there. One by one the ladies took the stage and gave stellar performances—Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Dorothy Masuka & Dolly Rathebe, (who along with Miriam were the fabulously successful Skylarks in the 1950’s), the Mahotella Queens, Brenda Fassie (her last performance), Thandiswa, and to cap the evening, Miriam. The audience up front pressing against the fence were mostly teenage girls. Despite their two generation age gap, these girls were transfixed, their faces glowing. To bridge a 50 something age difference is no small feat. I wondered what was going through their heads—enjoyment of the songs, an electric feeling of being close to an icon who meant so much for the anti-apartheid struggle internationally and nationally, a role model of how a woman could rise to the top of her field. Probably all the above. For the girls in Soweto that day and for everyone whose music and life she touched, thank you Mama Africa!! Please add your own reflections: info@afropop.org.


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