Classics: Black Coffee feat. Hugh Masekela – We Are One (Culoe De Song Remix) (Vega Records)
‘We Are One…’ A statement that finds a special resonance. This, in a country – South Africa – where the souvenir of the Apartheid is still alive. ‘We Are One…’ A statement that finds a special resonance. This, in a continent – Africa – where the family ties have a strong meaning.
Here we go with two generations of talents which have highly contributed putting South African music on the map. With, on one hand, iconic trumpeter and singer Hugh Masekela takin’ the centerstage. Meanwhile, on the other, we probably have the most famous South African DJ/producer by the likes of Black Coffee. And if ever it was not already enough, Culoe De Song adds his name to the picture, while in charge of the remix duties.
‘We Are One’ stands as a highly inspiring and powerful gem. Pretty much symbolizing what we’re about here on IDMW. Seeing the light back in 2009 as a part of Black Coffee‘s ‘Home Brewed’ album, it got given an impressive pack of remixes 2 years after on Louie Vega‘s Vega Records label. With Culoe De Song‘s rework makin’ of it one of our 2011 favorite cuts.
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Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned flugelhornist, trumpeter, bandleader, composer and singer. This, in addition to defiant political voice who remains deeply connected at home, while his international career sparkles.
Born in Kwa-Guqa Township, Witbank, Hugh Masekela began singing and playing piano as a child. Eventually learning trumpet by the age of 14. He received his first instrument of the likes the hands from Archbishop Trevor Huddleston. The anti-Apartheid chaplain at St. Peter’s Secondary School.
From the mid-50’s, he would fight against Apartheid. Using his music to reflect the agony, conflict, and exploitation his country was facing.
In 1960, at the age of 21, he left South Africa. Therefore beginning what would be 30 years in exile from the land of his birth. On arrival in New York, he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music. And from then, he immersed himself in the local Jazz scene there. There, he developed his own unique style under the tutelage of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong.
Hugh performed alongside countless luminaries. From Janis Joplin to Otis Redding and Ravi Shankar. Not to mention The Who and Jimi Hendrix in 1967. And the following year, his instrumental single – ‘Grazin’ In The Grass’ – went to #1 on the American pop charts. Eventually becoming a worldwide smash. Meanwhile elevating Hugh onto the international stage.
His subsequent solo career spanned 5 decades, during which he has released over 40 albums. He worked with such diverse artists as Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie and The Byrds. But also Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Miriam Makeba.
By 1984, he eventually ventured into Jazz/Dance territories. Releasing the memorable ‘Don’t Go Lose It Baby’ as a part of his ‘Techno-Bush’ album on Jive Afrika. An album which received production work by the likes of Stewart Levine. A man with whom he’d put together the Zaire 74 music festival in Kinshasa 10 years before.
Hugh returned to South Africa in 1990. There, he was honoured with the highest order in 2010: The Order of Ikhamanga. After joining U2 on stage in 2011, Bono described playing with Hugh as one of the highlights of his career.
At the age of 75 + Masekela maintained a busy international tour schedule. And he still found time to work with talents. The way he did back in 2009 with Black Coffee on ‘We Are One’. But also with Berita and Oliver Mtukudzi on ‘Mwana Wa Mai’ 4 years later. And, last but not least, with Ralf GUM in 2014 on ‘With Her Hand’ and ‘In The City’.
Hugh Masekela sadly died aged 78 in Johannesburg on Jan. 23, 2018 after battling against cancer.
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