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Miriam Makeba

Following a three-decade-long exile, Miriam Makeba's return to South Africa was celebrated as though a queen was restoring her monarchy. The response was fitting as Makeba remains the most important female vocalist to emerge out of South Africa. Hailed as the Empress of African Song and Mama Africa, Makeba helped bring African music to a global audience in the '60s. Nearly five decades after her debut with the Manhattan Brothers, she continues to play an important role in the growth of African music.

Makeba's life has consistently been marked by struggle. As the daughter of a sangoma, a mystical traditional healer of the Xhosa tribe, she spent six months of her birth year in jail with her mother. Gifted with a dynamic vocal tone, Makeba recorded her debut single, "Lakutshona Llange," as a member of the Manhattan Brothers in 1953. Although she left to form an all-female group named the Skylarks in 1958, she reunited with members of the Manhattan Brothers when she accepted the lead female role in a musical version of King Kong, which told the tragic tale of Black African boxer, Ezekiel "King Kong" Dlamani, in 1959. The same year, she began an 18-month tour of South Africa with Alf Herbert's musical extravaganza, African Jazz and Variety, and made an appearance in a documentary film, Come Back Africa. These successes led to invitations to perform in Europe and the United States.

Makeba was embraced by the African American community. "Pata Pata," Makeba's signature tune, was written by Dorothy Masuka and recorded in South Africa in 1956 before eventually becoming a major hit in the U.S. in 1967. In late 1959, she performed for four weeks at the Village Vanguard in New York. She later made a guest appearance during Harry Belafonte's groundbreaking concerts at Carnegie Hall. A double-album of the event, released in 1960, received a Grammy award. Makeba has continued to periodically renew her collaboration with Belafonte, releasing an album in 1972 titled Belafonte & Miriam Makeba. Makeba then made a special guest appearance at the Harry Belafonte Tribute at Madison Square Garden in 1997.

Makeba's successes as a vocalist were also balanced by her outspoken views about apartheid. In 1960, the government of South Africa revoked her citizenship. For the next 30 years, she was forced to be a "citizen of the world." Makeba received the Dag Hammerskjold Peace Prize in 1968. After marrying radical black activist Stokely Carmichael, many of her concerts were canceled, and her recording contract with RCA was dropped, resulting in even more problems for the artist. She eventually relocated to Guinea at the invitation of president Sekou Toure and agreed to serve as Guinea's delegate to the United Nations. In 1964 and 1975, she addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on the horrors of apartheid.

Makeba remained active as a musician over the years. In 1975, she recorded an album, A Promise, with Joe Sample, Stix Hooper, Arthur Adams, and David T. Walker of the Crusaders. Makeba joined Paul Simon and South Africa 's Ladysmith Black Mambazo during their worldwide Graceland tour in 1987 and 1988. Two years later, she joined Odetta and Nina Simone for the One Nation tour.

Makeba published her autobiography, Miriam: My Story, in English in 1988 and subsequently had it translated and published in German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. Following Nelson Mandela's release from prison, Makeba returned to South Africa in December 1990. She performed her first concert in her homeland in 30 years in April 1991. She appeared in South African award-winning musical Sarafina in 1992 in the role of Sarafina's mother. Two years later, she reunited with her first husband, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, for the Tour of Hope tour. In 1995, Makeba formed a charity organization to raise funds to help protect the women of South Africa. The same year, she performed at the Vatican's Nevi Hall during a worldwide broadcast, Christmas in the Vatican. Makeba's first studio album in a decade, Homeland, was released in 2000. ~ Craig Harris
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Reflections

1. Iyaguduza

2. Pata Pata

3. Comme Une Symphonie D'amour

4. Mas Que Nada

5. Click Song

6. African Convention

7. I'm In Love With Spring

8. Xica Da Silva

9. Love Tastes Like Strawberries

10. I Shall Sing

11. Quit It

12. Ring Bell

13. Where Are You Going

x

Track List: Homeland

1. Masakhane

2. Amaliya

3. Pata Pata 2000

4. 'cause We Live For Love

5. Liwa Wechi

6. Lindelani

7. Homeland

8. Umhome

9. Africa Is Where My Heart Lies

10. In Time

x

Track List: Live From Paris & Conakry

1. Kilimandjaro (Live)

2. I Shall Sing (Live)

3. Kulala (Live)

4. Malaika (Live)

5. Jolinkomo (Live)

6. Measure The Valley (Live)

7. Ring Bell (Live)

8. Pata Pata (Live)

9. I'mm You'mm We'mm (Live)

10. Tonados De Media Noche (Live)

11. Ushaka (Live)

12. Malcolm X (Live)

13. Tutu Maramba (Live)

14. I Phil Dlela (Live)

15. Congas (Live)

16. Ngoma Kurila (Live)

17. Forbidden Games (Live)

18. Mas Que Nada (Live)

19. West Wind (Live)

20. Amampondo (Live)

x

Track List: Sing Me A Song

1. Sing Me A Song

2. Bass Rap/Ndiarabi

3. Moody Moods

4. Thula Mntanami

5. Gen. Rap/Known Unsung Hero

6. I Long To Return

7. Serenade Me

8. Bambarana

9. Choo Choo Train / Shuku Shuku

10. Ivory Song

11. My People

12. Laktushona Ilanga

13. Good Grunge

14. Prendre Un Enfant

x

Track List: Le Monde De: Myriam Makeba

1. Kilimanjaro

2. Zenizenabo

3. Ntijilo Ntjilo

4. Umqokozo

5. Ngola Kurila

6. Thanayi

7. Liwa Wechi

8. Nagula

9. Carnival

10. Night Must Fall

11. Love Tastes Like Strawberries

12. Can't Cross Over

x

Track List: Africa

1. Mbube

2. Nomeva

3. Olilili

4. Suliram

5. The Retreat Song

6. The Click Song

7. Saduva

8. Iya Guduza

9. Lakutshn Ilanga

10. Umhome

11. Amampondo

12. Dubula

14. Umhome

15. Pole Mze

17. Qhude

18. Mayibuye

19. Maduna

20. Kilimanjaro

x

Track List: Welela

1. Amampondo

2. African Sunset

3. Djiu De Galinha

4. A Luta Continua

5. Soweto Blues

6. Welela

7. Hapo Zamani

8. Pata Pata

9. Saduva

10. Africa

x

Track List: Keep Me In Mind

1. Lumumba

2. For What It's Worth

3. Brand New Day

4. I Shall Sing

5. Kulala

6. In My Life

7. Down On The Corner

8. Ibande

9. Measure The Valleys

10. Tululu

x

Track List: Mama Afrika (1932 - 2008)

1. Quit It

2. Meet Me At The River

3. Hapo Zamani

4. Choo Choo Train

5. My Angel (Malaika) (Feat. Harry Belafonte)

6. West Wind (Live)

7. We Got To Make It (The Question)

8. Malaisha (Bring The Axe)

9. Welela

10. Remember Sophiatown (With The Skylarks)

11. Mbube

12. Iyaguduza

13. Soweto Blues

14. Ndibanga Hamba

15. La Guinee Guine

16. Emabhaceni

17. A Promise

18. Liwa Wechi

19. Umoya

20. Goodbye Poverty

21. Thulasizwe (I Shall Be Released) (Feat. Nina Simone)

22. African Sunset

23. Mas Que Nada (Live)

24. Xica Da Silva

25. Samba

26. Pata Pata

27. Chicken (Kikirikiki)

28. Kilimanjaro

29. Amampondo (Live)

30. The Click Song

31. Hauteng

32. Lindelani

33. Mama Ndiyalila

34. Ibabalazie

35. Mama (With Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse)

36. Back Of The Moon

37. Miriam And Spokes Patha Patha

38. Ntyilo Ntyilo

39. To Those We Love (Nongqongqo)

40. Train Song (Mbombela)

41. Lovely Lies (Lakutshona Ilanga)

42. A Luta Continua

43. Mayibuye

44. Iphi Ndilela (Live)

45. Chove-Chuva

46. Forbidden Games (Live)

47. You Are In Love

48. Umhome

49. I Shall Sing (Live)

50. The Retreat Song

51. Carnival

52. Suliram

53. Olilili

54. Nomeva

55. Love Tastes Like Strawberries

56. Kadaya Deya (Live)

57. Erev Shel Shoshanim (Evening Of Roses)

58. House Of The Rising Sun

59. The Naughty Little Flea

60. Beware, Verwoerd! (Ndodemnyama)

61. Ngoma Kurila (Live)

62. Oxgam (Click Song No 2)

63. Quickly In Love

64. Into Yam

65. La Bushe (Congo Bush)

66. A Piece Of Groud

67. Ring Bell, Ring Bell

68. Reza

69. Jolinkomo (Live)

70. Pula Kgosi Seretse

x

Track List: Sangoma

1. Emabhaceni

2. Baxabene Oxamu

3. Ngalala Phantsi

4. Ihoyiya

5. Kulo Nyaka

6. Baya Jabula

7. Mabhongo

8. Ingwemabala

9. Mosadi Ku Rima

10. Angilalanga

11. Ungakanani

12. Ngiya Khuyeka

13. Nyankwabe

14. Sabumoya

15. Congo

16. Nginani Na

17. Umam'uyajabula

18. Nyamuthla

19. Icala

x

Track List: South Africa's Skylark

Disc 1

1. The Click Song

2. Pata Pata

3. Sophiatown Is Gone

4. Inkomo Zodwa

5. Orlando

6. The Naughty Little Flea

7. Back Of The Moon

8. Umbhaqanga

9. Table Mountain

10. Holilili

11. Ntyilo Ntyilo

13. Live Humble

14. Miriam And Spokes' Phata Phata

15. Kutheni Sithandwa

16. Tula Ndivile

17. Hush

18. In The Land Of The Zulus (Kwazulu)

19. Amampondo

20. Kilimanjaro

21. Teya Teya

23. L'enfant El La Gazelle

24. Dakhla Yunik

Disc 2

1. Goodbye Poverty

2. Quit It

3. For What It's Worth

4. Lumumba

5. Magwala Ndini

6. Kulala

7. Samba

8. Mas Que Nada

9. Umquokozo

10. Down On The Corner

11. Murtala

12. Moolouyame

13. Umoya

14. Talking & Dialoging

16. U. Shaka

17. Soweto Blues

19. Meet Me At The River

20. Ask The Rising Sun

x

Track List: The Unforgettable

1. Mbube (The Lion Cries)

2. Kilimanjaro

3. Amampondo

4. The Click Song

5. The Retreat Song

6. Holilili

7. Mas Que Nada (Live)

8. Mayibuye

9. Nomeva

10. Suliram

11. Ntjilo Ntjilo

12. Can't Cross Over

13. Maduna

14. Zenizenabo

15. Malaika (My Angel) (Feat. Harry Belafonte)

16. Saduva

17. Lovely Lies (Lakutshona Ilanga)

18. Little Boy

19. Dubula

20. Chove-Chuva

21. Malaisha (Bring The Axe)

22. Ask The Rising Sun

23. Masakhane

24. The Naughty Little Flea

25. L'enfant Et La Gazelle

26. In The Land Of The Zulus (Kwazulu)

27. Kwedini

28. Witch Doctor (Isangoma)

29. Beware, Verwoerd! (Ndodemnyama)

30. Pata Pata

31. Teya Teya

32. Pole Mze

33. Train Song (Mbombela)

34. Malcolm X (Live)

35. Ushaka

36. Nagula

37. Forbidden Games (Live)

38. Thulasizwe (I Shall Be Released) (Feat. Nina Simone)

39. House Of The Rising Sun

40. Soweto Blues

41. Welela

42. Chicken (Kikirikiki)

43. Hauteng

44. Orlando

45. Live The Future (Feat. Dizzy Gillespie)

46. Xica Da Silva

47. Umhome

48. Quit It

49. Oxgam (Click Song No. 2)

50. Jolinkomo (Live)

Comments

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I've been listening to Mama Makeba since the early '70s and I've loved the warrior spirit that comes through her music. ..great soul that touched so many, many lives
Report as inappropriate
hornb
Love Mama Africa Mariam Makeba for her beautiful healing voice, intelligence , and Love for her people! She touched my soul and everyone who heard her eloquent voice. Her struggles were many but she was always in grace. Love her ever present music!!! She will always be with us in our hearts!!! ; }
Report as inappropriate
A Goddess the voice of reason a tireless Warrior for truth and freedom of our souls and minds you will on with in my souls journey
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I love you my African people, tears in my eyes for our constant struggle. but are are strong enough to handle this. Bless you MAMA
Report as inappropriate
IsiZulu
Report as inappropriate
Amazing ✔️
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She Is Mother Africa
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msmorse22
No audio!!!
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Her music is both timeless and deep. She is a true legend
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I remember hearing her music as a little boy in NY thr things she had to go through are sad but what a voice wr are going through the same thing still time had not change
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I saw her in the early sixties when she came to the US. Her group gave Great concerts in Central Park. I loved the boot dance song. Great artist.
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megnmusiq
What a story behind that beautiful voice!
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LOVE Madame Makeba. Wish there were more albums!
Report as inappropriate
This is one classy lady, who did not get enough recognition in her life time. Wish I could sing like her.
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Is she alive
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I Really love her music its very inspiration
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But i love her music
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CASTRO Friend The CUBAN DICTADOR
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Beautiful song,voice.
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Love her voice!!! Beautiful!!
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marygordon62 3 1
I love her musica too,especial l y
Pata Pata,name of a dance.
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My. Sister pat introduced me to Miriam Makeba..her spirit endures 4 decades later! Babs
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MY MAMI AFRICA... OH MEN.... I MISS MY CONTINENT
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TRUE 'WARRIOR & GIFTED SPIRIT & SOUL! R.I.P. ~ MOMA AFRICA
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jwangendo201 1
Simply a work of genius.
Report as inappropriate
I love Momma Africa, her voice is strong and touching. You don't have to understand the language, it's all in the heart and soul.RIP Momma Africa.
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mama Africa
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aaaaaw! I become sad every time I listen to her, she passed away the same week as my uncle. Oh! I miss you both.
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Very strong and beautiful woman .
Report as inappropriate
ladynarcisus
beautiful.. what an amazing life story she has... wow.. what an amazing woman... revolutionar y . . . peace activist... thank you Makeba for your sevice to humanity
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TERRIFIC
WONDERFUL
Report as inappropriate
Exceptional talent! My father introduced me to her music after he came back from a trip to Africa in the 1970's. Her presence is missed but she was the matriarch for many new performers.
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Miriam Makeba was a true revolutionar y artist. Thank God her music lives on. Ashey!
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Thanx for the post; long time no hear this one. May Mama Afrika find good company among the ancestors!
Report as inappropriate
Am so sad she is gone. RIP Mama Africa
Report as inappropriate
kys4hru
One of my Fav Miriam Makeba Songs EVER
Report as inappropriate
Ummmmm Pandora don't you feel the need to update this Bio sadly Miriam Makeba passed away in November of 2008 of a heart attack right after a performance.
Report as inappropriate
nmleonie
We need more African artist like Miriam Makeba, to promote the rich culture of the African countinent.

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