Jazz musician Hugh Masekela dies at 78
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Legendary South African jazz musician and anti-apartheid activist Hugh Masekela has died at the age of 78 after a decade-long fight with cancer, according to a statement from his family on Tuesday.
Often called the "Father of South African jazz," Masekela died in Johannesburg after what his family said was a "protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer."
Masekela was a rare artist who succeeded in fusing politics with his music, making his songs and performances compelling and timeless.
Trumpeter, singer and composer Masekela, affectionately known locally as "Bra Hugh," started playing the horn at 14. He quickly became an integral part of the 1950s jazz scene in Johannesburg as a member of the band the Jazz Epistles and a member of the orchestra in the groundbreaking jazz opera, "King Kong."
In the 1960s he went into exile in the United Kingdom and the United States, using his music to spread awareness about South Africa's oppressive system of white-minority rule. He scored an international No. 1 hit in 1968 with "Grazing In The Grass."
Masekela spent time in both New York and Los Angeles, performing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival with some of the era's most iconic musicians, including Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix. He collaborated with many musicians including Paul Simon and Herb Alpert and was married to South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba for two years.