Artist picture of Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba

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Artist's Top Tracks

Pata pata Miriam Makeba 02:57
Quit It Miriam Makeba 04:00
African Sunset Miriam Makeba 05:46
Knona Miriam Makeba 04:21
Saduva Miriam Makeba 03:41
Ring Bell, Ring Bell Miriam Makeba 02:50
A Luta Continua Miriam Makeba 04:49
West Wind Miriam Makeba 02:46
Kwazulu (In the Land of the Zulus) Miriam Makeba 02:32
Hurry, Mama, Hurry! (Khawuleza) Miriam Makeba 03:26

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Pata Pata
Ha Po Zamani
What Is Love
Maria Fulo

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Biography

A singer, actress and civil rights campaigner, Miriam Makeba was one of South Africa's most legendary performers, popularising her native music all over the world and so revered she became known as Mama Africa. Born in Johannesburg, her mother was a "Swazi sangoma" (herbal healer) whose imprisonment for selling home-made beer meant that Miriam spent the first six months of her life in jail. Her music career began in the early 1950s when she joined the jazz group Manhattan Brothers, leaving them for an all-female group The Skylarks mixing jazz with traditional South African songs. She effectively made her name, though, with the 1956 hit single Pata Pata and her fame grew after she appeared in an award-winning anti-apartheid film Come Back Africa. She followed this by appearing in a Broadway-inspired South African musical, King Kong, where she met and worked with the great trumpeter Hugh Masekela. On a trip to London she met Harry Belafonte, who facilitated appearances for her in America, where she subsequently became a big star, singing with Belafonte at John F. Kennedy's 1962 birthday party at Madison Square. Testifying against apartheid before the United Nations got Makeba banned from her own country, but she was welcomed all over the world and ended up with passports in nine different countries. She continued to campaign against the apartheid system - often in concerts with Belafonte - and sang traditional songs in Zulu, Sotho, Swahili and Xhosa and had an international hit with the Xhosa language Click Song. Her refusal to wear make-up or curl her hair for performances helped give rise to the Afro fashion, although her love affair with America faltered after her marriage to controversial civil rights activist and Black Panther member Stokely Carmichael in 1968 and the couple moved to Guinea. She sang at the famous Muhammad Ali-George Foreman "Rumble In The Jungle" boxing match in Zaire and went on tour with Paul Simon on his Graceland concerts. Makeba was finally allowed to return to South Africa on a French passport in 1990 and had a major hit the following year with the album Eyes Of Tomorrow, featuring Dizzy Gillespie, Hugh Masekela and Nina Simone. She suffered a heart attack and died after singing her big hit Pata Pata on stage in Italy in 2008.