Hugh Masekela, the giant trumpet player (he had a Billboard no.1 hit in 1968. People forget that), has a new show, “Songs of Migration,” that just played in Johannesburg (a decent review of the show over at the South African cultural blog Mahala.). It is a revival of the music made and sung by migrants who were either forced or moved out of necessity to work on Johannesburg’s gold mines. As The New York Times reports Masekela’s show acknowledges the varied origins of songs, including that brought by white immigrants to the Rand–“Sarie Marais” (in Afrikaans) and ““My Yiddishe Mama,” among others–but the bulk of the music is in the languages of the mass of cheap black labor that made white South Africa rich.
He also performs his original composition, “Stimela” (The Coal Train), as part of the show. (The video above is from a live performance of “Stimela” at a festival in London in 1986. No one can imitate a train like Masekela).
He needs to be bring that show to New York City.