Hugh Masekela graced the Atlanta entertainment panorama with his distinctive brand of indelible world music that has rightly earned him the classification of “true international superstar.” The Rialto Theater for the Performing Arts hosted the great South African musician on Saturday April 6, 2013. The performer was as energetic as ever as the crowd (including Georgia’s governor and first lady, Nathan and Sandra Deal) witnessed the 74-year-old performer lead his top-notch band through a set of classics. With a discography of more than 30 albums, Masekela took the crowd on a musical journey that included international hits “Grazin’ in the Grass” and “Stimela (Coal Train).” Masekela clearly was having a ball as he moonwalked and ‘”dropped it like it was hot” more than once (see video). After engaging the crowd in call-and-response on “Woman of the Sun” the audience never returned to their seats. Rolling Stone magazine’s designation of Masekela as “one of the most thrilling live performers around!” is highly accurate and enduring.
The year 1960 began a 30-year exile from South Africa for Masekela. Enrolling in the Manhattan School of Music, his musical journey included the ever evolving New York jazz scene with greats like Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus and Max Roach. Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong took Masekela under their tutelage and encouraged him to develop his own style. What emerged was a world sound loved by generations, spanning more than 50 years, resulting in more than 40 albums.
In January 2013, Masekela was the featured performer and one of 12 honorees at the African American Church inaugural ball commemorating the second term of President Barack Obama. The last stop on his current North American tour reunites Masekela with his dear friend and longtime pianist, Larry Willis.
April 18 – Concord, NH, Capitol Center for the Arts
April 19 – Middleton, CT, Center for the Arts, Wesleyan, University
April 20 – New York, NY, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts
April 21 – Boston, MA, Berklee Performance Center
April 23 – Calgary, Canada, Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts
April 25 – Edmonton, Canada, Winspear Centre
April 26 – Saratoga, CA, Montalvo Arts Center
April 27 – San Raphael, CA, Marin Center
June 13 – Houston, TX, Dosey Doe (featuring Larry Willis)