So long, Miriam Makeba

Sad to see this item on the wire this morning:

"JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) — She died just how she wanted to — singing on stage for a good cause. And her songs wafted out of taxis and radios, as fellow Africans struggled with their grief at her passing.
"Miriam Makeba , the "Mama Africa" whose sultry voice gave South Africans hope when the country was gripped by apartheid, died early Monday of a heart attack after collapsing on stage in Italy. She was 76."

I was introduced to Makeba by my parents, who were rabid Harry Belafonte fans when I was a preschooler. Belafonte was a champion of what we now call World Music, and made sure he used his concerts to introduce audiences to musical styles and artists from around the globe. On his 1960 "Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall" album (we listened to it in glorious monoral hi-fi, back then), one of his guests was Makeba, who sang "The Click Song."

I didn’t really follow Makeba subsequently — in fact, she wasn’t even my favorite thing on the record (that would’ve been the hilarious duet "There’s A Hole in the Bucket" by Belafonte and the legendary Odetta ).

But hearing of her passing still is like losing just another little chunk of my childhood.

If you ever get a chance to pick up a copy of that album (they have it out on those modern CD thingies now), do — Harry really knew how to put on a concert.

More later … — MM

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