Archive for music

A Salute to Honor Miriam Makeba – Mama Africa

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, Mother Africa, Spotlight with tags , , , , on June 6, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

An inspirational woman who was exiled from the wrongs of apartheid South Africa and went on to receive a Grammy for Best Folk Recording, be a delegate to the United Nations, continue to work as a human rights activist, and be known for her goodwill. Miriam Makeba suffered a heart attack while performing “Pata Pata” in a human rights concert in Italy. She died the next day,November 10, 2008, at the age of 76.  Miriam married four times. She had one daughter, Bongi Makeba, and two grandchildren.


Events in Her Life

  • In 1959, she performed with her future husband Hugh Masekela in the King Kong musical.
  • In London she met Harry Belafonte who was instrumental in gaining her entry and exposure in the United States. Together they released An Evening with Belafonte / Makeba, an album about the treatment of native South Africans under apartheid.
  • In 1963, Makeba testified before the United Nations Committee Against  Apartheid causing her citizenship and right to return to be revoked. Her music was banned in apartheid South African.
  • She married civil rights activist and Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael. Her record deals and tours were cancelled in reaction to this marriage.
  • In 1985, Makeba’s daughter dies.
  • In 1986, Makeba won the Dag Hammarskjold Medal.
  • In 1987, Makeba toured with Paul Simon and published her autobiography My Story.

A segment of the poem written by Dr. Don Mattera  in honor of Miriam Makeba’s appointment as South Africa’s Ambassador to the African Continent in 2003.

This song,
This fragment of a nation rejoicing
This eulogy of love for a revered Matriarch,
Is for you, Miriam Makeba
Voice of Africa’s vision and its deepest dreams

We salute you fairest African Queen
You, who wept against the indifferent moon,
traversing the shores of strange lands
standing attention to foreign flags
alienated, tolerated nomad of the struggle
Marching to the sound of distant drums
Sleeping in the dark folds of an exiled sunset
Waking in glow of a challenging day
You, Miriam, broke bread with revolutionaries
And was honored by kings

Let your sterling voice speak
For all the nations of the Earth,
Speak for Africa’s people
Hapless and hesitant, though they stand
At the portals of a New Beginning,
A moment of Resurrection and Renewal;
Speak as only you can speak
From the deep sap of your beautiful being.

Makeba, we love you…

Plena – The Music of Puerto Rico

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, Latin America with tags , , on May 29, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Plena is Puerto Rican folk music, the blues it tells of the pain and ironies in people’s lives and communities. It is rooted in African music and dance. It is compared to calypso music of Trinidad, porro of Colombia, and blues of United States.

It became popular in the 20th century with rural workers seeking musical expression. It swiftly became popular as an urban cultural expression.

Plena lyrics detail the news and political events in society as well as local gossip and scandal. Like rap, plena is as much about the lyrics as the rhythm. It incorporates call and response as in bomba and salsa. Plena is played in a fast pace as in reggae.

Afro-Cuban Music

Posted in CULTURE, Latin America, North America with tags , , , on May 23, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Afro-Cuban jazz celebrates a collective musical history. Through its percussive beat, it unites ragtime, blues, swing, and the various grooves of Cuban music. It proclaims our shared musical heritage.” – Wynton Marsalis

Afro-Cuban jazz is an African Cuban style of jazz that became popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s. African American jazz musicians blended their music with the music of Latin music traditions of North, South, and Central America to create Afro-Cuban jazz.

Dizzy Gillespie, an African American trumpeter, bandleader, and composer; and Chano Pozo, a Cuban percussionist, singer, and dancer created a form of Latin jazz called Cubop.


Other musicians such as Roberto Santamaria have extended the sounds of Cubop to a Latin funk sound. Listen to the transitions of the cubop by Roberto Santamaria.

Reggae – Music of the Caribbean

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, Latin America with tags , , , , on April 22, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

In Caribbean style music, Reggae has become more popular than both calypso and soca. Reggae was first performed in the poorest regions of Jamaica. The term “Reggae” originated from the song, “Do the Reggay” by Toots and the Maytals. The Dictionary of Jamaican English defines reggae as Jamaican music based on ska, (an earlier Jamaican music form).

Reggae is a hybrid of African folk music traditions and calypso. It uses a heavy four-beat rhythm combined with drums, bass guitar, and electric guitar, and scraper. A scraper is a corrugated stick that is rubbed by a plain stick.

Bob Marley and his group the Wailers introduced reggae to music lovers around the world. Today’s popular reggae artists include Vybz Kartel and Movado, who are considered the Tupac Shakur of the reggae world.

Bob Marley’s song lyrics “One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right.”  has been used as an anthem for human spirit.

The Sounds of Music

Posted in Mother Africa, NEWS with tags , , , on April 14, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Can you imagine a world without music? In Mogadishu music has been banned. People who have not been displaced were left in a world without music. Broadcasters from the 16 area stations could not imagine a world without music. As a solution they are mocking music with the sounds that they hear every day . . . gunfire, croaking frogs, and crowing cockerels. Very creative, very ironic!

Music was banned by Hibul Islam and Al-Shabab Islamist groups, two groups that have been in conflict with the government for many years. Most of the radio stations are complying with the ban. Radio Mogadishu, a government owned station is still playing music.

One civilian’s reaction . . .

“This morning, when I turned on the radio, the first thing I heard was the sound of gunfire and I was not sure what was happening until a reporter explained what they were doing. I laughed so hard. I actually have some friends who are enjoying the new tunes.”

No one is sure how long the ban or the response to the ban will last. One broadcaster said, “They may decide to ban these sounds also.”

Harlem Renaissance

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, North America with tags , , , , on February 20, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

From 1919 to 1926, a large number of African Americans moved from the rural South to northern cities such as Chicago, New York City, and Washington, DC. Many of these African Americans were leaving poverty-stricken living conditions of dirt floors, news papered-walls, and one room shacks. Upon arrival in the urban cities, they found a difference in life-style. With new opportunities came a spirit of celebration. This spirit was encouraged and artist of all media blossomed.

In 1925, Alain LeRoy Locke coined the term The New Negro after a book of the same name, to describe cultural celebration that was occurring. Later the term changed to Harlem Renaissance. Poetry, art, jazz, blues, and literature went into new directions that expressed the feelings of the time.

Artist of the time include Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway and Josephine Baker. These were the days of the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater.  America was influenced by the expressions of African American culture. The legacy of these and other artist influenced artist of the forties, fifties, and sixties.

You can find collections from this period in the Library of Congress as well as their website.

Exhibits include:

• African-American Odyssey: World War I and Postwar Society: The Harlem Renaissance and the Flowering of American Creativity

Harlem Renaissance and the Flowering of Creativity

This exhibits resources about the Harlem Renaissance.

• William P. Gottlieb: Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz

Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz

This exhibits photographer Gottlieb’s photos of jazz musicians and singers such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie.

• American Treasures of the Library of Congress-William  H. Johnson. “Street Musicians”

“Street Musicians”

This exhibits paintings by Harlem Renaissance artist William H. Johnson.