Miriam Makeba: South Africa's SkylarkBy
Makeba, whose South African passport had been revoked in 1960, went on to marry the polemicist and Black Panther Stokely Carmichael in 1968. The furor this caused led to Makeba's rejection by the mainstream US music business, and with Carmichael she moved to Guinea in West Africa. Two decades of African and European exile followed, before, with the urging of Nelson Mandela, Makeba returned to South Africa in 1990. She died in 2008, onstage in Naples, Italy, during a concert protesting at the murder of six Ghanaian immigrants. She was 76.
The compilation South Africa's Skylark brings together the several strands of Makeba's career over two, generously packed CDs. The first, subtitled "Traditional & Classic Miriam," focuses on the mid 1950s through the late 1960s, with recordings made in South Africa, the US and Guinea. The second, "Funky & Socially Conscious Miriam," concentrates on Makeba's later recordings, most of them fusing soul and funk with South African styles and many of them with politically-inspired lyrics.
There's plenty of great music on the second disc, but it's the 25 tracks on the firstspanning folk, mbaqanga, township jazz and kwelawhich contain the greatest and most singular magic. Makeba's pitch perfect, strong and clear, ever swinging voice is typically presented over simple but well arranged, small group arrangements: strummed acoustic guitar, double bass, heavily syncopated kit drums played with brushes, a group of backup singers and, infrequently, a clarinet or penny whistle. Occasionally, as on the lovely "Back Of The Moon," from the 1959 South African musical King Kong, the lineup is augmented by a horn section. The music is timeless and mostly well recorded, and the disc a delight.
The omission of any recording or personnel data, however, is inexcusable. Most of this information is readily available to researchers and an artist of Makeba's stature deserves better liner note annotation than an enthusiastic essay from the album's compiler. That said, South Africa's Skylark is a welcome release.
CD1: The Click Song; Pata Pata; Sophiatown Blues; Inkoma Zodwa; Orlando; The Naughty Little Flea; Back Of The Moon; Unbhaqanga; Table Mountain; Hililii; Ntyilo Ntyilo; Baby Ntsoare; Live Humble; Miriam & Spokes Phata Phata; Kutheni Sithandwa; Tula Ndivile; Hush; In The Land Of The Zulus (Kwazulu); Amampondo; Kilimanjaro; Teya Teya; Thanayi (Nomalungelo); L'Enfant Et La Gazelle; Dakhla Yunik; Liwaechi. CD2: Goodbye Poverty; Quit It; For What's It's Worth; Lumumba; Magwala Ndini; Kulala; Samba; Mas Que Nada; Umquokozo; Down On The Corner; Murtala; Moolouyame; Umoya; Talking & Dialogin; Malcolm X; U Shaka; Soweto Blues; Isangoma (Witch Doctor); Meet Me At The Corner; Ask The Rising Sun.
Miriam Makeba: vocals. Other personnel not listed.
Title: South Africa's Skylark | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Nascente
Post a comment about this album
FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZAll About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELPTo expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
About Miriam Makeba
Instrument: Voice / vocalsArticle Coverage | Albums | Photos | Similar Artists