Songwriter, singer and trumpeter who appeared on the Johannesburg jazz scene in the 1950s. He notably joined the Jazz Epistles in their short lived career in 1959-1960 (along with Abdullah Ibrahim, Kippie Moeketsi, Makhaya Ntshoko and Johnny Gertze).
After the Sharpeville massacre of March 1960 he left the country to study music in London and then New York.
His solo career took off with the release of Trumpet Africaine in 1962. In 1968 his single “Grazing in the Grass” went to number one on the Billboard charts.
He released albums and singles regularly throughout his life until his death in 2018. He wrote and performed songs which came part of the South African political and musical fabric, the most notable being “Stimela” (1985) and “Bring Him Back Home” (1987).
Photograph of Hugh Masekela courtesy of Harold Gess Photography.
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