Hugh Masekela, a South African trumpeter and singer who formed a musical bridge between two continents, mixing American jazz with African folk in records that made him an early avatar of world music and a joyful standard-bearer of his country's anti-apartheid movement, died January 23 in Johannesburg.
A few weeks later, he was up for his second Grammy nomination in the best world music category, but lost out to a posthumous Ravi Shankar record.
Hugh Masekela popularly called the "Father of South African jazz", Masekela was reported to have died in Johannesburg after what his family said was a "protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer".
But his support for the anti-apartheid movement brought him to the attention of the South African authorities and a year after the Sharpeville Massacre, Masekela was forced into exile, moving first to the United Kingdom, before going onto the U.S. and then other countries in Africa.
In a statement issued by the South African government, President Jacob Zuma mourns the loss of the musician: "Mr. Masekela was one of the pioneers of jazz music in South Africa whose talent was recognized and honored internationally over many years". Masekela told him that he would behave if he was given a trumpet.
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He married Miriam Makeba in 1964 and they divorced two years later.
His chaplain, the anti-apartheid activist Trevor Huddleston, granted his wish, and Huddleston soon found enough interest among other students to start a band. As detailed so memorably in his autobiography "Still Grazing: The Musical Journey Of Hugh Masekela" (co-written with D Michael Cheers), Masekela's life was rich and wild - and sometimes hard and full of heartbreak.
He produced music for the Mbongeni Ngema musical Sarafina and was also featured in Lee Hirsch's 2003 documentary Amandla!
Masekela performed at both the opening concert of the 2010 Fifa World Cup and the tournament's opening ceremony in Soweto's Soccer City. He was the father of American television host Sal Masekela. He also received a Lifetime Achievement award at the WOMEX World Music Expo in Copenhagen in 2011. It is with profound sorrow the family of Ramapolo Hugh Masekela announce his passing, his relatives said.
Last year, the University awarded him its highest honour, Doctor of Music (honoris causa), in recognition of Masekela's contribution to the music industry.