Soul Serenade: Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities & The Best Of The Rest

Stax Singles, Vol. 4In 1991, Atlantic Records released the landmark box set The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968. The care that was taken with the release marked a new level of respect for the music of the legendary Stax Records label and soul music in general. The collection was reissued by Rhino Records two years ago. In 1993, a resuscitated Stax Records released two more volumes of Stax recordings covering the years 1968-1975. The two volumes were reissued by Concord Music in 2015 and it was reasonable to think the maybe all of the greatness had been drained from the Stax vaults but that was not the case.

Craft Recordings, a division of Concord, has released Stax Singles, Vol. 4: Rarities and the Best of the Rest. Stax was, of course, best known for classic soul music but the new six-CD collection finds Stax branching out into other genres with music that was originally released by Stax subsidiary rock labels like Ardent and Hip, gospel labels like Chalice and Gospel Truth, and a country label, Enterprise. There are also early instrumental and blues tracks that appeared on Satellite Records, a precursor to Stax.

The collection digs deeper into the Stax archives than any of the previous compilations and comes up with long-forgotten B-sides and other rarities. Classic Stax soul is well represented on the first three discs but the set uses the other three discs to profile Stax’ attempts to diversify its sound over the years 1960-1975. Make no mistake, well-known Stax artists like the Staple Singers, the Bar-Kays, and Johnnie Taylor are represented here but there are also tracks from rock legends Big Star and Don Nix and gospel from the Dixie Nightingales and the Jubilee Hummingbirds.

An 80-page booklet accompanies the collection and includes essays by noted writers like Rob Bowman who covers the soul music discs.

“Stax’s B-sides are, by and large, better than most companies’ A-sides,” Bowman said.

Stax Singles, Vol. 4 was co-produced by Bill Belmont who spoke about the impetus behind the project.

“Over the years, within the collector-fan circuit, and in reissues and collections of vintage Stax material worldwide, some ‘B’ sides have attained a status comparable to the promoted work. Stax’s ‘other side’ has never been presented on its own — thus here, the “other” imprints are all gathered under the Stax umbrella; part of the all-encompassing rubric ‘where everything is everything.’”

Stax Singles, Vol. 4 marks the conclusion of a massive 60th anniversary of Stax Records reissue campaign by Craft Recordings and Rhino Entertainment who jointly control the Stax catalog. Over a two-year period, there have been 15 vinyl reissues by artists like Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, and Isaac Hayes, whose reissues were covered in last week’s column. There have also been CD releases including the Stax Classics series that highlighted some of the labels biggest stars and a three-disc compilation called Soulsville U.S.A.


Soul Serenade: The Holy Trinity of Soul (Isaac Hayes Vinyl Reissues)

Isaac Hayes - Black MosesIsaac Hayes began his career as a session musician. He was called on to sub for Booker T. Jones when Jones was at school, studying for his music degree at Indiana University. There were occasions, however, when both keyboard players appeared on the same record. Obviously, Hayes’ talent as a keyboard player was acknowledged by Stax management but I wonder if anyone knew at the time that one day he would be the savior, at least temporarily, of the company that he was playing occasional piano for.
For Hayes, there was a step in between his role as a session keyboard player and his ascent to the heights as a solo star. Before he made his own records he wrote hit songs for other artists, notably Sam & Dave. Teaming with David Porter, the pair penned smashes like “You Don’t Know Like I Know,” “Soul Man,” “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby,” and “Hold On, I’m Comin’.” Hayes and Porter also produced records by Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, and other Stax artists.

By 1969, Otis Redding, the biggest star on the Stax roster, had been killed in a plane crash. Shortly after that, the label lost all of its master recordings when Atlantic was sold to Warner Bros.-Seven Arts and the distribution contract between Stax and Atlantic was terminated. According to the terms of that contract, if that contract was terminated the Stax master recordings would belong to Atlantic, now part of Warner Bros. Stax was left with nothing to sell and needed fresh product immediately.

Isaac Hayes - Hot Buttered Soul

Al Bell was an executive vice president at Stax at the time but in reality, he was running the show by then. He issued a call for a mind-boggling 27 new albums to be released by the label in 1969. The most successful of these new albums was Hot Buttered Soul, the second solo album (the first one hadn’t gotten much attention) by Isaac Hayes. Hot Buttered Soul featured a stunning cover photo and extended versions of songs like Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Walk on By” (12:03) and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (18:42). The album topped the R&B chart and rose to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Hayes’ success continued with subsequent album releases The Isaac Hayes Movement (#1 R&B, #1 Jazz, #8 pop) and …To Be Continued (#1 R&B, #1 Jazz, #11 pop). In 1971 Hayes wrote music for the blaxploitation film Shaft. If anything, his wah-wah (played by the late Skip Pitts) driven title song surpassed the film itself in terms of success. The single was #1 for two weeks on the Billboard pop chart. The other two vocal tracks on the album, “Soulsville” and “Do Your Thing” also became hit singles. “Theme from Shaft” won Hayes an Oscar for Best Original Song. He was also nominated by the Academy that year for Best Original Dramatic Score.

Hayes wasn’t done by a long shot, however. Later in 1971, he released a double album called Black Moses. The big hit single from that album was the Hayes take on the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye.” The album also included unique Hayes versions of Bacharach-David songs “(They Long to Be) Close to You” which had been a hit for the Carpenters, and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” originally a hit for Dionne Warwick. The Friends of Distinction (“Going in Circles”) and Johnny Taylor (“Part Time Love”) were also covered. Hayes considered Black Moses to be his most personal album.

The three Hayes albums, Hot Buttered Soul, Shaft, and Black Moses, became known in some quarters as the “Holy Trinity of Soul.” It has been a long time since any of the three have been available on vinyl. A few weeks ago Craft Recordings released remastered (from the original analog tapes) versions of all three of the classic albums on 180-gram vinyl. The producers have faithfully reproduced the covers and all of the original artwork for the albums and the Black Moses album even includes the cross-shaped fold out that became legendary.

Purchase links:

Hot Buttered Soul


Black Moses

The videos below feature remastering engineer Dave Cooley discussing his work on the project and Isaac Hayes III and Cooley discussing the legacy of Isaac Hayes.

Soul Serenade: Dyke And The Blazers, “Funky Broadway”

Dyke and the BlazersA long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I was digging through some crates when I came across a record with a title that intrigued me by a group with a cool name. I didn’t know anything else about the song or the group but I bought the single that day and I still have it. It was something called “Uhh” by Dyke and the Blazers. My research tells me it wasn’t their biggest hit but that doesn’t make it any less of a cool record.
In the beginning, there was a guy with the somewhat unwieldy name of Arlester Christian in Buffalo, NY. Early on he took on the much simpler nickname, Dyke. At first, he was a bass player, working with a local group called Carl LaRue and his Crew. Somewhere around 1963 Carl and his Crew released a single on the KKC label called “Please Don’t Drive Me Away.” I’ll bet that one isn’t easy to find.

Meanwhile, clear across the country, there was a DJ called Eddie O’Jay and he managed a group called, that’s right, the O’Jays. Somehow O’Jay had become aware of LaRue and invited him to bring his band to Phoenix to back the O’Jays. Unfortunately, by the time the Crew made it out there in 1965, the O’Jays had departed for greener pastures. End of band.

Finding themselves without the means to go home, Christian and two other members of the Crew, guitarist “Pig” Jacobs and sax player J.V. Hunt, decided to stay in Phoenix. At the time there was a local group there called the Three Blazers and when they joined forces with the stranded Crew members they became Dyke and the Blazers. The rest of the lineup included Bernard Williams on sax, organist Rich Cason, and drummer Rodney Brown.

The new group played in the Phoenix clubs and they loved to jam. Out of one of those jams emerged the riff that became “Funky Broadway.” Most people probably think that the lyrics were inspired by the Great White Way in New York City, but in truth, Christian was thinking of Broadway in his Buffalo hometown and Broadway Street in Phoenix when he wrote it.

Arlester Christian

Enter Art Barrett. He heard the band, and he liked what he heard enough to become their manager. He quickly got them into a studio to record “Funky Broadway” and released it on his own label, which was called Artco. It was a big enough hit to get the band started, reaching the Top 20 on the R&B chart and crossing over to #65 on the Billboard Hot 100. The success came despite the fact that some radio stations banned the record because of the word “funky” in the title. Yes, you read that right.

Bass player Alvin Battle was added to the lineup to allow Christian more freedom as the lead vocalist. The success of the single led to a lot of touring for the group including stops at the legendary Apollo Theater. But the stress of touring got to them and by 1967, Dyke and the Blazers had broken up. Right after their split, Wilson Pickett released his version of “Funky Broadway” which of course was an enormous hit, #1 on the R&B chart and Top 10 on the pop chart.

Christian wasn’t done, however. He went back to Buffalo and put a new band together to back him. The second band included drummer Willie Earl who had been part of LaRue’s Crew, along with another drummer, “Baby Wayne” Peterson. Otis Tolliver played bass, Ray Byrd was on keys, and “Little Mo” Jones played trumpet. But the new lineup didn’t last, falling to pieces by 1969.

Instead of putting together yet another band, Christian moved to LA where he put out Dyke and the Blazers records that he recorded with session musicians. Those session musicians, by the way, eventually became known as the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. Among the musicians was drummer James Gadson, who played with Bill Withers, and Al McKay and Roland Bautista, both guitarists, who later played with Earth, Wind & Fire.

Several successful singles resulted from this collaboration including “We Got More Soul, and “Let A Woman Be A Woman, Let A Man Be A Man.” The singles tended to be long jams that were edited down for radio play. Yes, “Uhh” was one of their singles too, but it didn’t make it into the Top 100 in 1970, and neither did two subsequent singles.

Things did not end well for Arlester “Dyke” Christian. He was getting ready to tour England and to do some recording with Barry White when he was shot dead on a Phoenix street in 1971. Some people tried to make it a drug thing but an autopsy showed neither alcohol or drugs in Christian’s body. A man named Clarence Daniels was arrested for the killing but the charges were dismissed citing evidence of self-defense.

Christian was buried back home in Buffalo.


Soul Serenade: James Brown, “The Payback”

James BrownBy the end of 1974, James Brown’s long and illustrious career was about to head into a fallow period. But the downswing came at the end of one of Brown’s best years ever as he ran three singles to the top of the R&B chart. It was the end of an era in which Brown came to be known as the Godfather of Soul.

The first of the three 1974 hit singles was “The Payback” and it had a story all its own. The lyrics, originally written by JB Fred Wesley but extensively revised by Brown, are a dark tale of betrayal but they could easily tell the story of the song’s history. Brown wrote the song for a film called Hell Up in Harlem which was released in 1973. But the film’s producer’s rejected the song because they thought it sounded like “the same old James Brown stuff,” as if that was a bad thing. The film’s director, Larry Cohen, allegedly found “The Payback” not funky enough. Right.

“The Payback” is as funky as could be but the record’s arrangement was sparse and airy as opposed to some of the hard-driving funk that had preceded it. And a wah-wah pedal was very much present, something else relatively rare on previous Brown records. Whatever the reasons were for the rejection, Brown was pissed off and he decided to release the single and its namesake album the following year.

James Brown - "The Payback"

The basic tracks for the two-part single were recorded in Augusta, GA in August 1973. The following month brass and backing vocals were overdubbed in New York City. In February 1974, Polydor Records released the single. It not only topped the R&B chart, it reached #26 on the Billboard Hot 100. Payback indeed. Brown’s next single, “My Thang,” was released two months later and also topped the R&B chart and crossed over to #29 on the pop chart. Brown’s final R&B #1 hit of the year was “Papa Don’t Take No Mess” which was released in August and reached #31 on the pop chart.

1974 was a very good year indeed for James Brown. But disco was in its ascendency and Brown was slow to respond. The records he released in the late ’70s failed to reach the Top 10 on the R&B chart. It’s not like Brown disappeared from the public eye during those years though. He appeared in films like The Blues Brothers and Doctor Detroit, and on tv shows like Miami Vice. And then in 1985, he came all the way back with the release of “Living in America,” which was featured prominently in the film Rocky IV. “Living in America” was written by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight. The single was released in December 1985 and raced all the way to the #4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Brown’s first Top 40 pop hit in ten years and the last one he would ever have.


Soul Serenade: The Temptations, “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)”

Dennis EdwardsI’ve written more about the Temptations in this column than probably any other group or solo artist. I’ve spoken of my love for David Ruffin and the entire classic lineup. I didn’t say original lineup because Ruffin was not an original member of the Temptations. He replaced Elbridge Bryant in 1964. But the passing of Dennis Edwards, who, in turn, replaced Ruffin in 1968, is something that I cannot ignore.
To be honest, I resented Edwards when he first joined the Tempts. I was such a fan of Ruffin and I was not happy that he had been dismissed, although it’s probably fair to say that he earned that dismissal with his behavior. But then those Norman Whitfield-produced hits began to come out with Edwards singing lead on them and resentment quickly turned to admiration.

These weren’t David Ruffin’s Temptations anymore. That was clear from the first notes of “Cloud Nine” which appeared in October 1968. These were the psychedelic Tempts and subsequent hits in this vein included “Runaway Child, Running Wild,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Psychedelic Shack,” “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today),” “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” and “Shakey Ground.”

“Ball of Confusion” was written by Whitfield and Motown stalwart Barrett Strong. The single was recorded at Hitsville USA (Studio A) on April 7, 1970, and it was released on Motown’s Gordy imprint on May 7. All of the Temptations, aside from Otis Williams, contributed lead vocal parts, and they were backed by the legendary Funk Brothers. The single reached #3 on the pop chart and #2 on the R&B chart.

The Temptations

David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards were friends and when Ruffin was first dismissed from the Temptations he encouraged Edwards to step up. Before long though, Ruffin decided he wanted back in. He began to show up at Temptations shows, grab the mic from Edwards to sing “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and run off again. At one point, Otis Williams decided to relent and let Ruffin back in, even going so far as to let Edwards, who was still new to the group at that point, know that he would be laid off. But Ruffin failed to show up for the very first reunion gig and that was the end of the idea of bringing him back into the fold.

Edwards had come from Alabama and his family moved to Detroit when he was ten-years-old. Early on in his career Edwards joined the Mighty Clouds of Joy gospel group. His parents did not approve of secular music but by 1961 Edwards had a group called Dennis Edwards and the Fireballs. After serving in the military, Edwards auditioned for Motown and got a job singing with the Contours in 1966. When the Contours opened shows for the Temptations, who were by then having problems with Ruffin, Edwards was noticed by the group’s members.

Edwards quit the Contours in 1967 and he was prepared to follow Holland-Dozier-Holland to their new Invictus label when the Temptations called and the string of hits began. In 1977 the Temptations were about to leave Motown for Atlantic Records when Otis Williams fired Edwards. When the Temptations returned to Motown three years later Edwards was rehired. The group was in rehearsals for the Reunion tour, which also included Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, when Edwards began to miss rehearsals and was fired again.

In the 1980s Edwards had some success as a Motown solo artist before rejoining the Temptations for the third time in 1987 and being fired for the third time in 1989. In the 1990s, Edwards toured with Ruffin and Kendricks and after the two former Temptations died in successive years Edwards led the Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards.

Dennis Edwards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Temptations in 1989. His Temptations Review was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame in 2015. On that same night, Edwards was given the Living Legends award. He died of complications from meningitis on February 1, 2018.


Soul Serenade: The Ru-Jac Records Story

Winfield ParkerOn February 2, Omnivore Recordings will release the third and fourth discs in their splendid compilation series The Ru-Jac Records story. Ru-Jac was a Baltimore-based soul and R&B label founded by Rufus Mitchell and Jack Bennett (hence the label name) that began operations in 1963 and continued into the 1970s. The label featured better-known artists like Winfield Parker and Gene & Eddie (Omnivore has already released CDs devoted to the work of these artists) along with many lesser but should have been better-known artists.

Cheryl Pawelski

Cheryl Pawelski

Cheryl Pawelski is a co-founder of Omnivore. Her music business career has been focused on preserving, curating and championing historic music and has included stints at Rhino Entertainment, Concord Music Group, and Capitol-EMI Records. Her many accomplishments include supervision and production of reissues and box sets by artists like Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin & King Curtis, Otis Redding, John Coltrane, the Staple Singers, and many more. Cheryl has also served as a Governor and Trustee of the Recording Academy and she is currently on the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation.

Recently, I discussed The Ru-Jac Records Story releases with Cheryl who co-produced the Ru-Jac reissue series with Kevin Coombe.

Kevin Coombe has provided extensive liner notes for each of the four volumes. Together they lay out the history of Ru-Jac Records. What is the cliff notes version?

The Baltimore soul/R&B label Ru-Jac Records was founded in 1963 by local promoter Rufus Mitchell and investor partner Jack Bennett (their names forming the Ru-Jac label name). The label primarily released regional soul/R&B singles from 1963 until the mid-1970s, when Mitchell stepped away to focus on another business venture. A few tracks had been licensed throughout the years, but until now, there have been no comprehensive collections of the Ru-Jac label.

How did Omnivore come to acquire the rights to the Ru-Jac catalog?

A music attorney friend of mine had deep ties to the Ru-Jac catalog. While there had been offers in the past to purchase the catalog, he and the owners had rejected those. We’d worked together before and he thought we’d be a good home. Turns out, I think he was right! We’re so grateful to be the caretaker of this music. It’s a great responsibility and a great joy. There are so many terrific songs.

Omnivore previously released discs focused on Ru-Jac artists Winfield Parker and Gene & Eddie. What was the thinking in regard to releasing these discs before the multi-artist compilations?

They were the biggest artists on the label and the most recorded. We thought it’d be great to get those out first before diving into the overall story which naturally took longer. There were lots of tapes and acetates to transfer and try to identify, nothing being marked well, of course. So while we were sorting and figuring out as much as we could of the material emanating from the sources, we thought it’d be best to re-introduce Ru-Jac with Winfield Parker (a consulting producer on the whole reissue program) and Gene & Eddie with Sir Joe first.

While you were preparing these compilations was there one artist you were previously unfamiliar with who impressed you, or maybe one you hadn’t heard for awhile who surprised you?

There were many. The Teardrops Band featuring Marie Allen just shreds. I love the Mask-Man and the Cap-Tans tracks. There are so many great tracks, some by completely unknown, unnamed artists. Notable to me are Celestine, Brenda Jones, The Jolly Jax, Rita Doryse, Kitty Lane, Leon Gibson, Dynamic Corvettes, so many – just jump in a let it rip, these are fun!

The Ru-Jac Records Story Vol. Four

The liner notes include capsule biographies of the Ru-Jac artists. Is there one great Ru-Jac story, in the notes or not, that you love?

The thing that struck me the most (and to be certain, I don’t love it), and it’s still, sadly, so relevant today is the origin story. Rufus Mitchell, the owner of the label, was a promoter who was booking the segregated beach stages on the east coast. This label has the same sad story that Stax does, not as politically developed musically, and certainly lacking the bigger audience that hits afforded Stax, but the music came from the same place, the African American community. I find it intolerably sad and infuriating, the racial divides that existed then and persist and are being stoked now. It makes want to protect and preserve this music even more. Because of the cultural/political origins of Ru-Jac, I feel besides the super fun nature of the music, we also have a responsibility to tell the story of the artists and people involved and hand the stories and the music down, and not let it be lost to history.

Can we look forward to more Ru-Jac music from Omnivore?

This is pretty much it. It was a singles-only label, so we’ve restored what we could from what we have. If more tapes materialize, for sure, I’d love to do a volume five of odds and sods that might be found in the future, but right now, this is pretty much it. We are working on a collection of demos by Arthur Conley. He was the singer on the Ru-Jac Harold Holt single, but I found all these demos in the Ru-Jac tapes and despite their audio compromises, the songs are simply beautiful. Some are just solo piano demos with him singing, some have a little combo. Later he cut some of the songs he was writing during this time for Jotis, Fame, and Atco, but there are a bunch of previously unknown compositions. If the songs weren’t so cool, we wouldn’t bother because the audio quality may not be brought up to our usual standards. We’re working on it now, but frankly, I can’t get some of the tunes out of my head. That tells me a whole lot. These are intimate and magical little performances in a very workmanlike setting. In one, a phone rings in the middle of the song, a few he announces who he is and the song title at the beginning. It’s fly on the wall stuff and while listening your imagination gets enough clues to paint the scene. I hope folks like them as much as I do.

Provide a brief history of Omnivore. Where did you come from? How long has the label been around? What is your mission as a company? In terms of soul and R&B, what have you done so far and what can fans look forward to?

Omnivore is a label, publisher, licensing and consulting group of industry veterans that came together eight years ago to form a company primarily focused on the preservation and release of older recordings. Focusing as much as possible on great or important recordings that were never previously issued or those left behind or overlooked as the business and configurations rapidly changed over the course of the last 50 years. We’re not interested in genres, we interested in great music. As far as soul/R&B, in the past, we’ve released albums by Arthur Alexander, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, The Bo-Keys, Darondo, Carl Hall, MC Lyte, Bobby Patterson and Bobby Rush. We also just produced a Nina Simone release for BMG that will be released in early February. Looking forward, you never know, we’ll be as surprised as the fans are – that’s all part of the fun.


Soul Serenade: Hugh Masekela, “Grazing In The Grass”

Hugh MasekelaHugh Masekela died this week. The South African trumpeter had a big instrumental hit with “Grazing in the Grass” in 1968 and the Friends of Distinction followed-up the next year with a vocal version of Philemon Hou’s song and it was also a hit. But that one hit was hardly the whole story.

Masekela was born in a town called Witbank. Although he played piano as a child he found inspiration in a Kirk Douglas film called Young Man With a Horn (based on the life of jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke) and turned to the trumpet at the age of 14. Masekela attended St. Peter’s Secondary School where the chaplain was Archbishop Trevor Huddleston. Apartheid was the law of the land in those days but Huddleston was opposed to the system of segregation and repression. He gave Masekela his first trumpet and when Masekela identified other students who were interested in music they called their first band the Huddleston Jazz Band in recognition of his Huddleston’s support. There were several other bands along the way and in 1956 Masekela joined Alfred Herbert’s African Jazz Revue.

From an early age Masekela was determined to raise his voice in opposition to apartheid and his music was informed and inspired by the struggles and sorrows of black South Africans. And his was an effective voice, reaching those who were living under the boot of the apartheid rulers. In 1959, Masekela cast his lot with pianist Dollar Brand (who later became Abdullah Ibrahim) to form a group called the Jazz Epistles. They were the first African jazz group to ever record an album and they played to huge crowds in South Africa’s biggest cities, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

On March 21, 1960, one of the cruelest incidents in the cruel history of apartheid took place when 69 protesters were shot dead by government troops in what became known as the Sharpeville Massacre. When the government cracked down on further protest, banning gatherings of more than ten people, Masekela left the country. Fortunately, he had become friends with international musicians like Yehudi Menuhin and John Dankworth and they got Masekela into the Guildhall School of Music in London.

While he was in exile, Masekela visited the United States and became friends with Harry Belafonte. Eventually, he moved to New York to study classical trumpet at the Manhattan School of Music. Along the way, Masekela married musician Miriam Makeba but their marriage only lasted for two years.

Hugh Masekela

Masekela’s first American hit came in 1967 with his version of Jimmy Webb’s “Up, Up and Away.” The next year “Grazing in the Grass” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and sold four million copies. Masekela appeared at the storied Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and in the subsequent film. That’s him playing trumpet on the Byrds 1967 hit “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.”

Masekela remained in exile but he continued to record and tour with jazz groups through the 1970s. In 1987 he released an album called Tomorrow. Included on that album was a song called “Bring Him Back Home,” a plea for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. The song became an anthem of the anti-apartheid movement and was, of course, banned by the South African government.

Also in the 1980s, Masekela set up a mobile studio in Botswana, just over the South African border. The studio allowed Masekela to begin to reconnect with South African musicians and to get reacquainted with the Zulu musical style known as mbaqanga. In 1985, Masekela founded the Botswana International School of Music which gave local musicians of all ages the opportunity to play together. As if all of that wasn’t enough, Masekela spent time touring as part of Paul Simon’s Graceland tour which featured a number of other South African musicians, and he helped to develop the music for the Broadway play Sarafina!

In the early ’90s, Masekela returned to South Africa. The 2003 film Amandla: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony featured Masekela. The following year his autobiography, Still Grazing: The Musical Journey of Hugh Masekela was published. Masekela stayed busy in the new century, recording a number of albums between 2002-2016. His most recent release was No Borders which was released two years ago. Also in 2016, Masekela reunited with Ibrahim and the other members of the Jazz Epistles for a concert to commemorate the 40th anniversary of anti-apartheid student demonstrations in Johannesburg. It was their first performance together in 60 years.

“The Father of South African Jazz” died of prostate cancer on January 23 leaving behind a long and legendary career as a musician and an activist.