Hugh MasekelaMore Info
Legendary South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela is an innovator in the world-music and
jazz scenes, and is active as a performer, composer, producer, and activist. This iconic
artist is best known for his integral role in Paul Simon's tour in support of the classic
album Graceland. Masekela's Grammy Award-winning hit "Grazing in the Grass" made
him an international star. He has collaborated with numerous artists in the US, Africa, and
Europe, including Miriam Makeba, Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, and Herb Alpert.
Renowned choreographer Alvin Ailey chose a piece by Masekela to create a work for his world
famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Masekela also co-created the Broadway smash
musical Sarafina! that introduced the sounds and passion of South African music to
theater audiences worldwide.
Masekela's work as an activist raised international awareness of the South African
government's restrictive apartheid policies. In the 1980s, his hit song "Bring Him Back
Home" became an anthem for the movement to free Nelson Mandela from prison.
Masekela celebrated his 70th birthday in a highly acclaimed performance with the London
Symphony Orchestra in 2009. This past April, he received The Order of Ikhamanga from South
African President Jacob Zuma, his nation's highest civilian honor. At this year's World
Cup, Masekela appeared in the live opening ceremony that was broadcast worldwide. As part
of ESPN's coverage of the event, Masekela and his son Selema hosted a series of videos
entitled Umlando-Through My Father's Eyes. These moving tributes to South Africa
celebrated the diversity of its music, culture, and people.
Cameron John Ward
The "baby" of the band at the tender age of 22, Cameron John Ward is the most recent South
African musician to benefit from Hugh Masekela's constant desire to identify and nurture
exceptional young talent. Ward first picked up the guitar at the age of 11 and hasn't
looked back since. After graduating from the highly regarded Prompt College of Music in
Cape Town, Ward was considered something of a teenage prodigy and was arguably the hottest
young guitarist in his country. Still in his teens, he had already played with heavyweight
South African and Mozambican jazz musicians, including Themba Mkhize, Jimmy Dludlu, Luis
Moreira, and Judith Sephuma. When guitarist Erik Paliani decided to leave Masekela's band
in 2008 to return to Malawi and pursue his dream of opening his own studio, his replacement
was obvious. Ward has seamlessly fit into the band and his youthful exuberance adds a great
counterpoint to Masekela's wise statesmanship.
Randall Skippers is a graduate of the vibrant Cape Town jazz scene. Born into a musical
family, his uncle is well-known jazz guitarist Derrick Skippers. From the age of 15,
Randall was part of his uncle's band. The young Skippers cut his teeth in Cape Town's
late-night jazz clubs, while also playing on Sunday mornings in the local church. His
desire to further his musical career led him to Johannesburg in 2003, and he quickly earned
a reputation among the local jazz cognoscente, playing with established artists like Ernie
Smith, Vusi Khumalo, Judith Sephuma, and Selaelo Selota. In 2007, he was brought to Hugh
Masekela's attention by Malawian producer-guitarist Erik Paliani (who was Masekela's
guitarist at the time). Masekela quickly recognized Skippers's skill and recruited him as a
fulltime band member.
Abednigo "Fana" Zulu
Widely regarded as South Africa's finest bass player, Fana Zulu has developed his own
unique style with his upside-down strung, six-string bass guitar. Born in Soweto (outside
Johannesburg) in 1961, Zulu started making his own guitars on the dusty township streets at
the age of 9, using pieces of wood, oil cans, and fishing wire. He picked up tips from
various neighborhood musicians and by the age of 17 decided that he was going to make music
his profession. Zulu then joined a local group, The Editions. He earned a good reputation
on the township music scene, and in 1982, he toured South Africa with the highly regarded
blind vocalist Babsy Mlangeni. In 1984, Zulu joined the seminal South African band Bayete
(that also featured the legendary Jabu Khanyile). Bayete recorded some of the great protest
music of the 1980s-a turbulent time in South Africa's political history. In 1994, Zulu left
Bayete to pursue solo projects and worked as a session musician on recordings by Miriam
Makeba, Jimmy Dludlu, Sibongile Khumalo, and Themba Mkhize, among others. In 2000, he
joined Hugh Masekela's touring band, and has been a permanent fixture ever since.
Essentially a rock 'n' roll drummer, Lee-Roy Sauls got his start in the Cape Town night
clubs, and like his good friend Randall Skippers was a member of his church band during his
teenage years. Escaping the tough Cape Town neighborhoods where gang-life and drugs were
commonplace, Sauls relocated to Johannesburg in 2004. Soon after, he started moving in jazz
and rock circles, where he made a name as a talented and versatile drummer. Like Skippers,
his introduction to Hugh Masekela was through Erik Paliani at the Phola recording
sessions in 2007. The young drummer soon made the grade under Masekela's strict tutelage,
and is now an integral member of the touring group.
Francis Manneh Fuster
Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Francis Manneh Fuster is one of Africa's best-known
percussionists. As a young teenager, he began learning his craft under the tutorship of
Batu Boisei, and then honed his skills playing in his church group every Sunday. In 1962,
after a chance encounter, he joined The Heartbeats (a seminal West African band that was
influential in the development of the Afrobeat style). They toured regularly in Nigeria,
Ghana, and Liberia, and counted the young Fela Kuti as one of their many fans. In 1972, The
Heartbeats split up, prompting Fuster to move to Nigeria, where he formed his own group,
Baranta. In the 1970s, he also played regularly with Fela, Manu Dibango, and Osibisa. In
1982, he moved to London, where he reconnected with Hugh Masekela (whom he had originally
met in 1974). Not long after, he became a permanent fixture in Masekela's touring band. His
association with Masekela also led him to tour the world with Paul Simon in the late 1980s
and early '90s. After 28 years, Fuster is a vital part of the Masekela sound.
Morris Goldberg is a New York-based composer, saxophonist, clarinetist, and penny whistler
who grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. After relocating to the US, he attended the
Manhattan School of Music, where he received both his bachelor's and master's degrees.
Well-known to jazz lovers, Morris won popular acclaim through his featured performances on
Paul Simon's Graceland, including the penny whistle solo in the hit song "You Can Call Me
Al." Morris attained nationwide acclaim as saxophonist and wind specialist on The Rosie
O'Donnell Show (l996-2002). For nearly 20 years, Morris performed with Harry Belafonte
and appeared on three video releases, including An Evening with Harry Belafonte and
Friends. Morris has also performed with Miriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu, and Jonathan
Butler, in addition to being featured in Masekela's spectacular Sekunjalo tour.
Morris has played at many jazz festivals with Masekela, including the Playboy Jazz Festival
in Los Angeles and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He has also performed with
his own band at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the Standard Bank Jazz
Festival in South Africa. Morris has recorded three albums with his group, OJOYO, who play
Safrojazz, a combination of South African and American music.