He was born in Kwa Guqa township in South Africa. He had an interest in music at an early age, experimenting with his voice and playing on piano’s when he had the chance. He first picked up the trumpet after he saw a movie of American actor Kirk Douglas playing the role of a trumpeter in, “Young man with a Horn” and was inspired to be a young man with a horn himself.
And quite a young man with a horn Masekela was. He helped to form the first youth Jazz band in South Africa, creating the , “Hudleston Jazz Band”. Leaving his youth behind in 1959 however led him into even bigger things as he created the, “Jazz Epistles” which was the very first South African Jazz group to record a record.
He eventually found his way to the United States during the 1960’s where he found fertile ground for his music and created Jazz hits that are still played round the clock on radio stations to this day. One of the more famous pieces he did in the U.S. was, “Up, Up and Away” released in 1967. He also further cemented his fame that year by attending the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.
Twenty years later he would write a song that would inspire a nation and become an anthem for calls to release Nelson Mandela. Taking a call to action his song, “Bring him back Home” was a number one hit in 1987.
And since those days of Masekala is going strong. He is always playing with the best of musical artists and headlining the best concerts and festivals. This man is truly a legend and deserves to be our featured South African artist.
His last album, “Friends” in 2012 was finally produced on his own record company, “House of Masekela” this record company of his continues to be a great legacy as well helping to discover and promote many more generations of South African Artists. So in this sense Masekala is a featured artist that just keeps on giving!