HUGH MASEKELA / “Stimela”
I think the greatest thing about Louis Armstrong was that he never became an adult. He remained playful. He remained a child, and that child personality made him very appealing to everybody. That and the fact that he knew where his roots were. Like I said, he couldn't talk for a paragraph without mentioning New Orleans. He always spoke like he owed a debt to New Orleans. What we always have to remember is that the source of our success is the people we come from. We can't forget where we came from. Again, I have to bring up Louis Armstrong. So you have to pay back, because when you are born, you are born naked. You don't come here with anything. My grandmother always reminded me that when I was born, I didn't bring any money, I didn't have anywhere to sleep, and it took me three years to show me where the bathroom was. They taught me how to talk. They taught me how to think. They taught me how to walk. I lived rent-free, and they clothed me and gave me food for seventeen years. I would never be able to repay them, but at least, I must always acknowledge that when I came into this world, I didn't know shit, and that if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't know anything. If you live by that motto, I think that you are not only able to pay back, but it sort of helps to center you. You have to remember that. You didn't make it by yourself. I think that was the greatest inspiration for me, because I don't think I would be what I am if I didn't come from South Africa. I owe an endless debt to the people of South Africa and all those other African communities all over the world that I have accessed, and lived with and learned their music. Because we're all born naked. We don't come here with anything. —Hugh Masekela http://www.afropop.org/multi/interview/ID/37/Hugh+Masekela-2002Undoubtedly most regular visitors to Breath of Life have heard the music of Hugh Masekela before. He is an icon of Black music. Exiled for many years from his South African home, Hugh has traveled the world bringing a message of steadfast hope and a deep belief in the healing power of music. Early in his career he had a big, big hit in the USA with his song “Grazin' In The Grass,” which incidentally, was written by Philemon Hou. Back in the late Sixties, “Grazin'” topped the charts, selling over four million copies. It has been a perennially-requested song for the entirety of Hugh’s decades-long career. Nevertheless, as popular as it is, there is another song that is also a Masekela classic, a song which Hugh has recorded and recorded and recorded, offering us at least six different versions. That song is “Stimela.” It is truly representative of the Hugh Masekela sound—upful, committed music that makes you think and dance, dance and think. The version of “Stimela” we share this week is from the live album Hope that was recorded in 1993 at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. It’s an extended workout with an awesome introduction by Hugh. I don’t need to explain anymore—just listen. As a bonus I’ve included a 21st century cut, “Old People, Old Folks,” which is also self explanatory. Again, just listen. —Kalamu ya Salaam "Stimela" is the one.... I like the classic "Grazin' In The Grass," but of these selections, "Stimela" is the one that really grabs me. When I heard Masekela's intro, I thought of so many other songs: Kanye's "Diamonds From Sierra Leone," Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City," two from Gil Scott-Heron—"Three Miles Down" and "Blue Collar," and Black Uhuru's "Rockstone," to name just a few. It seems like it's a reality all over the world: the poor have to do hard labor, even deadly labor, so that the rest of us can look, smell and feel the way we want to. Makes you wanna holler, for real. I can't say I'm feeling the "Old Folks" cut though. When I first heard it, I actually thought it was TKZee. It has that same super-clean, super-slick, super-Eighties sound that their stuff has. Blah. —Mtume ya Salaam
This entry was posted on Saturday, May 27th, 2006 at 11:54 pm and is filed under Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
10 Responses to “HUGH MASEKELA / “Stimela””
Leave a Reply
| top |