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Google marks Bra Hugh Masekela's 80th birthday with a Google doodle

Apr 4, 2019
Google marks Bra Hugh Masekela's 80th birthday with a Google doodle

South African jazz legend celebrated by Google with its Google doodle

Port Elizabeth - Search engine, Google, on Thursday celebrated what would have been the 80th birthday of legendary South African jazz musician, Hugh Ramapolo Masekela - fondly called ‘Bra Hugh’, with a Google Doodle in his honour.

Google Doodles are when Google creates a special‚ alternative logo on their homepage to commemorate people‚ holidays‚ events or achievements.


Known as the “father of South African jazz”, Hugh Masekela was also an anti-apartheid activist.

He is noted for successfully fusing politics with his music, making his songs and performances compelling and timeless.

He passed away in Johannesburg at the age of 78 after a decade-long fight with cancer.

Masekela would have been 80 on Thursday.


Google celebrates Bra Hugh Masekela with a Google doodle

“Today’s Doodle celebrates the world-renowned South African trumpeter, singer, bandleader, composer, and human rights advocate Hugh Masekela,” Google described in a blog post.

Born 80 years ago today in the coal-mining town of Witbank, South Africa, Masakela got his first horn at age 14.

Hugh went on to play with a wildly popular group known as the Jazz Epistles, the first all-black jazz band to record an album in South African history. However, within the year, its members were forced out of the country by the apartheid government.

At the age of 21, Masakela began a 30-year exile, traveling to New York where he enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music and dived into the city’s jazz scene, observing jazz giants like John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus, and Max Roach on a nightly basis.

“You’re just going to be a statistic if you play jazz,” Miles Davis advised him, “but if you put in some of the stuff you remember from South Africa, you’ll be different from everybody.”

Encouraged by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, Masakela delved into his own unique influences to create his 1963 debut album, entitled Trumpet Africaine.

By the late ’60s he moved to Los Angeles, and performed at the Monterey Pop Festival on a bill that included Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, and The Who. His 1968 single “Grazin’ in the Grass” hit #1 on the U.S. pop charts.

Masakela would go on to collaborate with the likes of Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder.

In 1990, “Bra Hugh” returned to South Africa in time to see his song “Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela)” come true.

When the ANC leader was released from prison and elected South Africa’s first black president, Masakela’s music was the soundtrack.

“My biggest obsessions is to show African and the world who the people of Africa really are,” Masekela once said, and the quote featured on the Google Doodle.

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