Miriam Makeba RIP


Miriam Makeba – “Mama Africa”


Listen – Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata – MP3″

Greetings all.

I wasn’t expecting to do a midweek post*, but I heard the news of yet another important passing (no less that the ninth reported here in the last few months), and could not let it go by without taking note.
The group of musical émigrés that came to the US from South Africa in the 1960s, including Hugh Masekela, Letta Mbulu, Caiphus Semanya, and Jonas Gwangwa has always held a fascination for me. They all made some mark on the musical scene of the 60s, some to great financial success (Masekela’s 1968 hit recording of the Philemon Hou song ‘Grazing In the Grass’). One of the most prominent members of that group, Miriam Makeba died this week at the age of 76.
Makeba, who was married for a time to Masekela** (they were both aided with their move to the US by their friend Harry Belafonte), and became known as ‘Mama Africa’ , had a long career that began before she came to the US, and continued for decades afterward. She was an outspoken opponent of apartheid, and campaigned
Her biggest hit, 1967s ‘Pata Pata’ (covered countless times***) is also a personal favorite of mine. It is a singularly joyful record with an infectious rhythm and a lyric, which – although written (I think) in Makeba’s native Xhosa – draws the listener in and compels you to sing along (or at least try).
While I was tearing through my record boxes tonight trying to find this single – an infuriating task since I’d had it in my hands, and my dj box several times in the last few months – I was shocked to notice for the first time that the tune was co-written by none other than the great Jerry Ragavoy!
That said, pull down the ones and zeros and let the spirit of the music take you over, and remember the great Miriam Makeba.

Check out this great clip of Makeba performing ‘Pata Pata’ on Brazilian TV, with none other than Sivuca on guitar!



*I have a joint Funky16Corners/Iron Leg post ready to go, but I’ll hold it until Thursday

**After divorcing Masekela, she later married Stokely Carmichael (aka Kwame Ture)

***By Osibisa, Senor Soul, Tito Puente, Afro Blues Quintet +1 and Ray Bryant among others


PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.


7 Responses to “Miriam Makeba RIP”

  1. aggrolites Says:


    This isn’t related to the passing of Ms. Makeba, but after hearing the CD, I thought you might enjoy The Aggrolites.

    They are a *funky* rock steady sound that sounds like it was done in Studio One in the sixties, but then they add a bunch of funk on top. The singer sounds like a young Toots Hibbert. The self-titled CD has a bunch of very funky instrumentals.

    The best part of all is the band is young, alive and kicking. No longer does my daughter have to say, “Is [fill in the name here] dead too?”

    I enjoy your blog. Thanks.

  2. tafkajp Says:

    I just read that we can add Mitch Mitchell to the list of recently departed. Two hours ago I got an email telling me “hey man take a look out the window and see what’s happening” It was our first rain since the hurricane. I think I am going to get into something real nice tonight.

  3. Got my voodoo workin! Says:

    Larry, thanks for all the great music man. The diversity of stuff you got spinning on here never fails to suprise. I’d like to request some more those obscuro greasy funky kickin’ Hammond 45’s whenever you get the inspiration and TIME!


  4. djack Says:

    R.I.P. Ms. Makeba. Her “Pata Pata” is one of my all-time favorite singles.

    Scroll around youtube to find more incredible videos from 1966-1969, it’s amazing how much music and rhythm were created by her voice and her backing band of the time, featuring, as you see in the “Pata Pata” video, just acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, and conga.

    One knit-picking note about “Pata Pata.” It was first recorded by Dorothy Masuka in the 50’s and originally credited to her. Jerry Ragovoy was indeed a gigantic ( and enormously overlooked) figure in 60’s soul, but this was one of those deals where the producer gets co-writer credits. Don’t know for sure, but I suspect he helped form the English part of the record, which talks about the song (and the dance) which was already a staple in South Africa. The record itself, though, is a beautiful re-creation of the original and I love that groove stated first by the piano which some people have called samba-esque, but to my ears is clearly BOOGALOO!

    Anyway, thanks again for the posts, and Happy 8th Day!!

  5. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks for the info about the source of the song. I had seen references that it had longer roots, but nothing specific.

  6. The Friday Linkfest: 11/14/08 | Popdose Says:

    […] Funky16Corners pays tribute to the recently departed Miriam Makeba; […]

  7. el-scorcho: Tribute to Miriam Says:

    […] Wochenende eine traurige Meldung. Miriam Makeba weilt leider nicht mehr unter uns. Auf funky16corners wird der großen Dame Tribut gezollt. Und ich will das hiermit auch […]

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