freedomfest

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Miriam Makeba was a South African singer and civil rights activist also known as “Mama Africa” and the “Empress of African Song”. She introduced Xhosa and Zulu songs to Western audiences, becoming one of the world’s most prominent black African performers in the 20th century. She is best known for the songs “Pata Pata,” “The Click Song” and “Malaika.”

Makeba was born in 1932 in Prospect Township, near Johannesburg, South Africa to a Swazi mother and a Xhosa father. Her mother was a sangoma, a practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counselling in traditional Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi (Nguni) societies of Southern Africa. She would also clean houses. Makeba’s father died at a young age, and she was sent to live with her grandmother at a compound in Riverside, Pretoria. She sang attended the Kilmerton Training Institute, where she sang in the choir. Makeba also sang at church, and during the 1947 Royal Visit she performed her first solo.

In the 1950’s, Makeba began her professional singing career singing with her cousin’s band the Cuban Brothers. In 1954, she started to build a reputation for herself when she was featured in the South African jazz group the Manhattan Brothers. She toured South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Congo with the band for the next three years. In 1957, Makeba left the group to sing with an all-woman group, The Skylarks who sang a blend of jazz and traditional South African melodies. In 1956, she released the single “Pata Pata” which was hugely successful, being played on all the radio stations in South Africa and making a name for her. In 1959, she had a small cameo singing in the an anti-apartheid documentary film Come Back, Africa. Her performance made a huge impression on viewers, and led to her attending the premiere of the film at the twenty-fourth Venice Film Festival in Italy, where the film won the prestigious Critics’ Award. That same year, she starred in the Broadway-inspired South African musical King Kong.

Makeba’s part in Come Back, Africa brought her to the attention to Harry Belafonte to helped her to secure a visa to live in the United States. She built a successful sining and recording career in the U.S. singing Xhosa and Zulu songs, which she introduced to Western audiences. In 1960, She tried to return to South Africa to attend the funeral of her mother but was denied entry due to her part in the anti-apartheid documentary. The South African authorities had been subject to negative attention due to the film, and had revoked her passport. She She was the first black musician to leave South Africa on account of apartheid, and over the years many others would follow her. In 1962, Makeba performed at the birthday celebration for U.S. President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, her audience also included Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, Nina Simone and Miles Davis. A year later, she testified about apartheid at the United Nations and as a result, her South African citizenship was taken away from her and her records were banned in South Africa. She was then issued international passports from Guinea, Belgium and Ghana, becoming a citizen of the world. She was also granted honorary citizenship in ten countries during her lifetime.

Makeba continued to sing and record in the U.S. In 1966 she won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording for the album An Evening with Belafonte & Makeba (1965). The album dealt with the political situation of black South Africans under apartheid, and Makeba continued to draw on traditional Zulu, Sotho and Swahili songs in her music. A year later, she became the first black woman to have a Top-Ten worldwide hit when “Pata Pata” was re-released. It became her best known single. She released many other hit singles, including “The Click Song” (“Qongqothwane” in Xhosa) and “Malaika”.

In 1968, Makeba married Stokely Carmichael, a Black Panther, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader. The marriage was controversial, and led to her record deals and tours being cancelled. The couple were forced to move to Guinea, where Makeba lived for 15 years. She became friends with PresidentAhmed Sékou Touré and his wife, Andrée and was appointed Guinea’s official delegate to the United Nations. She addressed the General Assembly twice, speaking out against apartheid. In 1986, she won the Dag Hammarskjöld Peace Prize from the Diplomatic Academy for Peace for her work with the UN.

Makeba continued to perform in Africa, Europe and Asia. In the mid-1980’s, Makeba met Paul Simon and together they embarked on the hugely successful Graceland Tour to newly independent Zimbabwe, which brought attention to apartheid in South Africa. Makeba was in huge demand after the tour, and performed for heads of state and the pop. She signed with Warner Bros. Records, and she released an album entitled Sangoma, an a cappella album of healing chants in honour of her mother. In 1988, she released her autobiography Makeba: My Story. That same year, she performed at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute at Wembley Stadium, London. The event was to call for Mandela’s release, and was broadcast to 67 countries and had an audience of 600 million. It was also known as Freedomfest, Free Nelson Mandela Concert, and Mandela Day.

In 1990, State President of South Africa Frederik Willem de Klerk reversed the ban on the African National Congress and other anti-apartheid organisations and announced that Mandela would be released from prison. Upon his release, Mandela persuaded Makeba to return to South African and in June 1990 she arrived back in South Africa. In 1991, she performed for the first time in South Africa and recorded and released the album Eyes on Tomorrow with Dizzy Gillespie, Nina Simone and Masekela. She then embarked on a worldwide tour to promote it.

In 1999, Makeba was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). A year later, her album Homeland was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best World Music Album category. During this time, she worked with Graça Machel-Mandela, the then South African first lady supporting children suffering from HIV/AIDS, rehabilitating child soldiers and campaigning against drug abuse. She founded the Zenzile Miriam Makeba Foundation to carry out humanitarian work, including the Miriam Makeba Rehabilitation Centre for abused girls. In 2001, she was awarded the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold by the United Nations Association of Germany for “outstanding services to peace and international understanding”. In 2002, she shared the Polar Music Prize with Sofia Gubaidulina, receiving the prize from Carl XVI Gustaf King of Sweden during a nationally-televised ceremony at Berwaldhallen, Stockholm. That same year she took part in the documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony which detailed the struggles of black South Africans against the injustices of apartheid through the use of music. Two years later, she was voted 38th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.

In 2005, Makeba embarked on a worldwide farewell tour, holding concerts in all the countries she had visited during her musical career. She continued to perform until her death in 2008. In 2009, a tribute show entitled “Hommage à Miriam Makeba” and curated by Grammy Award-winning Beninoise singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo for the Festival d'Ile de France, was held at the Cirque d'hiver in Paris. The show was then held at the Barbican in London with the English title “Mama Africa: Celebrating Miriam Makeba”. In 2011, a documentary about her life was released and in 2015, it was announced that a musical about Makeba entitled “Zenzi!” is scheduled to premiere in 2016. Makeba produced 30 original albums during her career, and appeared on 19 compilation albums as well as collaborating on the recordings of several other musicians.

Sources here, here, here, here and here.

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This guy blew my mind; first time tripping on acid and shrooms- took me to a whole new level! :D #nhhempfest #newhampshirehempfest #freedomfest #hempfest #high #acid #shrooms #trippin #lights #show

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Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Author of “Rollback,” at FreedomFest 2012

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