Hugh Masekela performs during the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans.     Jeff Christensen AP
Hugh Masekela performs during the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans. Jeff Christensen AP

Bra Hugh's Township Grooves hit the digital space

By Mpiletso Motumi Time of article published May 21, 2020

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The Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation and Universal Music SA have released Township Grooves, a compilation of Bra Hugh’s homegrown brew music.

"This came in particular because Hugh did a lot. He was a giant guy and played in many parts of the world but he was always a township boy. He always represented that in his work and hopefully this will be a series we can do on a yearly basis," said his nephew, Mabusha Masekela.

He said the album was testament to the notion that you can take the man out of the township, but you can never take the township out of the man.

"With some music nowadays it's like we're missing where we come from. SA has always been a place that's taken in influences from other places, but we always made it sound like it was ours.

"These days there isn't any kind of call back to where we come from. The reason Hughey became Hugh Masekela in that global sense is he always delved deeply into the traditions, cultures and music that he came from."

Masekela added that the strong influence Bra Hugh had from Miriam Makeba could be heard in his music.

"She knew hundreds of South African songs. When they first went into exile they would spend time singing these songs.

The Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation and Universal Music SA have released Township Grooves, a compilation of Bra Hugh’s homegrown brew music.

"In this kind of environment we're now in, we just felt to give people a taste of where we come from. And if it can come from someone like Bra Hugh, here is a way to tell young artists the sky is the limit and you will go much further if you speak from what you know, not what you imitate."

The 15 songs were selected from Bra Hugh's body of work.

"Hugh was under a lot of different record companies over his career. We chose from what we had access to from Universal Music. It's a large library of music and we honed it down to something you can listen to on a Sunday afternoon."

The album is culled from albums released between 1965 and 1974.

"We spent a bit of time creating the running order, there's a story being told with the tracks. They are all songs that can be ascribed to the township and reflect the many styles of music popular in the township."

Nelson Makomo designed the album cover.

"Hughey always collaborated. He always was an anchor for young South Africans and interested in promoting young talent.

"Nelson was someone he had met and Hughey was enamoured with Nelson's work. It's in line with promoting South African art and artistry.

The album is now available for streaming on various platforms.

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