RIP Miriam Makeba (“Mama Africa”)

Footage from her last concert:
Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba, a South African singer whose voice stirred hopes of freedom among millions in her own country though her music was formally banned by the apartheid authorities she struggled against, died overnight after performing at a concert in Italy on Sunday. She was 76.

The cause of death was cardiac arrest, according to Vincenza Di Saia, a physician at the private Pineta Grande clinic in Castel Volturno near Naples in southern Italy, where she was brought by ambulance. The time of death was listed in hospital records as midnight, the doctor said. [NYTimes.com]

Her singing career started in the 1950s as she mixed jazz with traditional South African songs.

She came to international attention in 1959 during a tour of the United States with South African group the Manhattan Brothers.

She was forced into exile soon after when her passport was revoked after starring in an anti-apartheid documentary and did not return to her native country until after Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990.

She appeared on Paul Simon’s Graceland tour in 1987 and in 1992 had a leading role in the film Sarafina! [BBC News]

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