A symbol of identity galvanizing pop, soul, jazz, blues and opera, her voice is a divine gift from God. Even in her 70s, the Queen of Soul still carried a rare enthusiasm for music with her final public performance materializing in November 2017 at an Elton John AIDS foundation gala. Sadly, at 9:50 am thereabouts yesterday, Aretha Franklin passed away due to advanced pancreatic cancer.
Over the course of a career that spanned more than 6 decades, Aretha was far more than impressive with as many as 100+ songs going onto the Billboard Charts. In addition 44 nominations and 18 Grammy wins, Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. 7 years later, owing to her artistic markedness, she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Good music is always unfinished business. Aretha Franklin made a difference; Aretha Franklin lives on.
It all went with a terrific swing. That cold drizzly night in August 2016 when Hugh Masekela performed a series of brilliant and rapturous music which, together with the animating backgrounds, became sort of a whole world. Music, especially of his kind, is meant to be enjoyed live with all senses involved. It was one of his last public performances, and that I am most grateful to have attended.
Perhaps the one thing I love most about Masekela is his elegiac sensibility. It is not every day that you hear this kind of music that is cultured, poignant and deeply moving. And how refreshing that it comes from a man with a lot of daring! A man who takes music as a tool for cultural identity, shaping politics and history. Of his works, Masekela happens to be one of my best album; a disarmingly forthright and powerful projection about the apartheid era. In my opinion, its audacity lies in his anger and defiance both very well balanced by his energy and musical refinement.
Now, Hugh Ramapolo Masekela lies deceased, aged 78, after a long battle with prostate cancer. It is disconsolate when the life of someone so essential is cut short. I have no proper way to honor his incredible and tenacious years of music and activism, yet, in spite of this tragic event without catharsis, I will say with unimpeachable authority that Masekela made a difference. Important too, is that what he leaves behind will continue to.