Siparia To Soweto represents a coming together, an amalgamation of people, experiences and
culture into one ‘meeting place.'
After the rousing reception of “The Meeting Place (Amapiano Version)” alongside Soca legend, Machel Montano, the late legendary South African trumpeter, composer and vocalist, Hugh Masekela, and the Trinidadian steel orchestra, Siparia Deltones, announce the release of their highly-anticipated collaborative album, Siparia To Soweto, released through Gallo Record Company and Montano’s Monk Music Group. This album is not just a musical collaboration—it is a story of a man, a people, a land, and a drum that built a bridge between two worlds—a profound journey that sheds light on the history of Trinidad and its cultural heritage. It tells the story of an African culture that re-emerged post-slavery through the steel pan, creating an alchemy of sound and feeling that is its legacy.
The three singles released ahead of the album, “The Meeting Place,” “Mango Tree” and Dingolay," embody the album’s ethos as a platform for the confluence of ideas, genres, and cultures. Dingolay" is a percussive composition highlighting how we find solace, inspiration, and a sense of the transcendent through music. Informed by a range of influences, Siparia To Soweto also captures the 3X Grammy-Nominated Masekela’s love of travel, collaboration, and musical adventure.
“One of Trinidad’s most popular meeting places is under the mango tree. It’s a place where politics, economics, history and culture are discussed. Some even claim to find love under the mango tree,” says Deltones’ band leader and executive producer, Akinola Sennon.
After Bra" Hugh witnessed the Siparia Deltones at the San Fernando Jazz Festival in 2005, the idea of bridging the musical worlds of Africa and the Caribbean together was born, extending a musical love affair dating back to his time in London, England. During this time, Masekela was transfixed by the arrangements, vernacular, and style of calypso music. Masekela’s visits to Trinidad between 2012 and 2016 expanded his appreciation of these sounds, their embrace of the human spirit, and co-creative impulses. These facets spoke to Bra Hugh’s spirit and found an outlet in lively recording sessions helmed by esteemed musical arranger, Carlton “Zanda” Alexander.
As musical worlds collided through the ensuing re-interpretations of Trinidadian standards by Baron (Timothy Watkins), Mighty Shadow (Winston Bailey), Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) and Daisy Voisin, a sonic meeting place for South African Jazz, Steel Drums, Soca, Calypso, Parang and Amapiano took shape.
“The mission of the Siparia Deltones is to use the steelpan as a vessel to restore all facets of the cultural heritage of Trinidad & Tobago and the Afro-Caribbean diaspora at large.” Akinola Sennon continues, “While our roots are inherently African, many other peoples and cultures have integrated into our society with the passage of time, which fostered peace and harmony. Siparia to Soweto represents a coming together, an amalgamation of people, experiences and culture into one ‘meeting place.'”
With its global outlook, Siparia To Soweto is a triumph of native sounds, celebration of legacy, and rhythmic highlighting of our shared lived experiences. It’s a testament to Bra" Hugh Masekela‘s enduring impact as a provider of empowerment, pride, and legacy.
“I would say that Hugh’s music, in this day and age, is not a symbol but rather a source. It’s a source assembled over a six-decade period that inspires, strengthens, instructs, empowers, and entertains. A symbol, to me, is something that represents the form or spirit of something else. Hugh’s music is not a symbol of a thing, Hugh’s music is the thing,” nephew Mabusha Masekela says.