Tributes paid to South African musician and activist Hugh Masekela

‘Father of South African jazz’, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78

South Africans have paid tribute to Hugh Masekela, the legendary jazz musician and activist, who died on Tuesday aged 78.

The South African president, Jacob Zuma, said the nation would mourn a man who “kept the torch of freedom alive”. The arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa, described Masekela as “one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz”. “A baobab tree has fallen,” Mthethwa wrote on Twitter.

A statement from the trumpeter’s family said Masekela “passed peacefully” in Johannesburg, where he lived and worked for much of his life, on Tuesday morning.

“A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with a profound loss. Hugh’s global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memories of millions across six continents,” the statement read.

Relatives described Masekela’s “ebullient and joyous life”.

Masekela had been suffering from prostate cancer for almost a decade. He last performed in 2010 in Johannesburg when he gave two concerts that were seen as an “epitaph” to his long career.

South African social media was flooded with tributes to “brother Hugh”, whose career and work was closely intertwined with the troubled politics of his homeland.

The singer Johnny Clegg described Masekela as “immensely bright and articulate … an outstanding musical pioneer and a robust debater, always holding to his South African roots.”

Masekela was born in Witbank, a mining town in eastern South Africa, and was given his first trumpet by the anti-apartheid activist archbishop Trevor Huddleston, who formed a pioneering jazz band in Soweto in the 1950s that became a launchpad for many of South Africa’s most famous jazz musicians.

Masekela went on to study in the UK and the US, where he had significant success.

Hugh Masekela with ex-wife Miriam Makeba and Paul Simon in 1987.
 Hugh Masekela with ex-wife Miriam Makeba and Paul Simon in 1987. Photograph: Phil Dent/Redferns

As well as forming close friendships with jazz legends such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, Masekela performed alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

He returned to Africa where he played with icons such as Nigeria’s Fela Kuti, and in 1974 he helped organise a three-day festival before the “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing clash in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

In 1976, the man who became known as the father of South African jazz composed Soweto Blues in response to the uprising in the vast township. He toured with Paul Simon in the 1980s while continuing his political engagement, writing Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) in 1987. The song became an anthem of the anti-apartheid struggle. James Hall, a writer and broadcaster who spent time with Masekela in the 1990s, said he “could have prickly personality” at times “due to the tension and frustration of being away from his own country for so long”.

Masekela was briefly married to Miriam Makeba in the 1960s and remained on good terms with the South African singer after their divorce. “They had a wonderful friendship and were very, very close,” said Hall, who co-wrote Makeba’s autobiography.

Masekela refused to take citizenship anywhere outside South Africa “despite the open arms of many countries”, said his son, Selema Mabena Masekela, on Tuesday.

“My father’s life was the definition of activism and resistance. His belief [was] that the pure evil of a systematic racist oppression could and would be crushed. Instead he would continue to fight.”

After more than 30 years in exile, Masekela returned to South Africa in the early 90s after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the end of apartheid.

In 2010 he performed at the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Johannesburg.

Masekela had many fans overseas. “Hugh Masekela was a titan of jazz and of the anti-apartheid struggle. His courage, words and music inspired me … and strengthened the resolve of those fighting for justice in South Africa,” said Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter.

Hugh Masekela photographed for the Guardian in 2011.

The Carol That Never Was Sung

Laura Hassler
Laura Hassler Director & Founder Musicians without Borders

I grew up with a beautiful Christmas story called “The Carol That Never Was Sung,” written by my father– a writer, peace activist and lover of music.

My pacifist parents had left the organized church in their youth, disillusioned when it declined to oppose war, stand for social justice, and take radical risks. But they believed in the persistence of hope in dark times, and they recognized the many ways, across religions, cultures and histories, of telling stories of hope.

“The Carol That Never Was Sung” told of a song that somehow never managed to show up in time to help celebrate the birth of “the child”: each year, it had met someone who was lost, imprisoned, at war, exiled, or orphaned – and had always stopped to bring the consolation of music, and was therefore too late. “But next year”, the carol promises…

We are almost in another “next year” and those songs are more needed than ever.


FFM are really ambitious for our members and in 2018 we want to offer scholarships, bursaries and financial assistance to aspiring musicians.

Help us achieve this by visiting our sponsors below


Be careful of culture  because it can be lost

This is the chorus of Umuco (Culture), composed and performed by youth leaders and children in Rwanda.

When war comes, culture is lost. But more: when those who promote and profit from war gain power, culture is attacked and we lose our voices.

The human right to culture (Art. 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights) is strongly tied to all other human rights. It is culture that lets us lift our voices, tell our stories, sing our truth.

When war has raged and culture is lost, the bringing back of culture is a radical act of peacebuilding.

Please help us bring back culture for those who are bravely turning from war to life.

In today’s global turmoil of war, injustice and climate disaster, we need to remember to hold on.

As 2017 comes to a close, we ask our supporters around the world to hold on to your hope, to your communities, and to us.

Please help us to continue our work in 2018.

Advent day 12 and the incredible Kenyan Boys Choir

The Choir

The Kenyan Boys Choir also known as the Boys Choir of Kenya is a choral ensemble of talented boys drawn from high schools and colleges around Kenya. The choir is dedicated to moulding a world-class choral outfit that offers a platform for Kenyan boys to nurture their natural talents in music, dance and drama, while imparting life principles of discipline, hard work, perseverance, persistence and determination. In order to shape a youth citizenry that is responsible and of impeccable integrity for effective leadership in the society, the choir advocates for attainment of quality education for its members. Education is elementary in the augmentation of any individual towards being a responsible and an empowered member of the society; a fact that the Kenyan Boys Choir believes in and strives to inculcate.

The Beginning


The choir has its roots in Aquinas High School Nairobi where it was the school’s main choir. In 2004, The Boys Choir of Kenya was choir founded under the auspices of the then St. Louis African Chorus (currently African Music Arts) under the mentorship of Dr. Fred Onovwerosuoke, a renowned Musicologist and Cross-Cultural educator. It was during the same year that the choir made their maiden tour out of their home country Kenya to the United States of America. Audiences and press alike followed the boys through the Northeast, up to Quebec, down to Atlanta, through major cities in the Midwest. The St. Louis African Chorus, managed to tour the choir in more than 12 different states conducting workshops and concerts with their U.S. counterparts. It was also during their performance in St. Louis that they had a week dedicated in their honor as ‘‘the Boys Choir of Kenya week’’ by the Mayor of the city of St. Louis due to their magnificent performance.


Picture 009

Upon their return to Nairobi after a successful tour in 2005, The Boys Choir of Kenya expanded its membership to include students from other High Schools and colleges from within Nairobi and its environs. Students from other schools who were eagerly interested in joining the choir but were locked out due to its exclusivity to the Aquinas high School fraternity got a chance of being part of one of Kenya’s most celebrated youth group. The choir hence had a national outlook due to its representation by students from all over the country.



Now with a national outlook, The Choir was becoming everybody’s favorite, with corporate firms and individuals inviting them to perform during various occasions. During the 2006 4th of July celebrations at the U.S Embassy Nairobi, the choir delighted their host, His Excellency Ambassador Michael Ranneberger who couldn’t stop looking at his guests with a smile on his face as they enjoyed the performance by the Choir. Ever since this day the Choir has been the main entertainment group during these celebrations. It was also during the same year that the choir charmed sports lovers from all over East Africa during the auspicious Sportsman of the Year Awards (SOYA Awards), an annual award ceremony in celebration of the best athletes from within Kenya and the larger East Africa.


Performing for young students in Canada

In 2007 the Choir was back in the U.S. courtesy of The Micato Tours and Safaris Company which was hosting more than 3000 tours and travel agents from all over the world during the month of August in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada.


Amerika Jambo

Early 2008, in the month of February the Choir toured three different states in the U.S. again which was now becoming their home away from home with a very huge fan base across the entire country. This time round the Choir flew for 12 straight hours to Los Angeles California where they entertained clients and friends of the Micato Safari Family. From Los Angeles, the Choir went to Las Vegas again for a bigger audience of more than 7000 who were attending the 70th Anniversary ceremony of The Carlson’s sharing the platform with renowned artistes like Tony Benet and Paul Potts amongst others. Regis Philbin, who was the master of ceremony, couldn’t stop praising the boys’ performance which had impressed all who had attended including the Swedish Queen. Before heading back home, the Choir held a couple of workshops in St. Louis with their counterparts The St. Louis Children’s Choir. It was also during their stay in St. Louis that they managed to record their second Album Dubbed ‘’Amerika Jambo’’ which was released on the month of January 2009.

2008 was a very busy year for the Choir who had to go back to the U.S. on the month of July after being invited by The Okobos shoe Company in Las Vegas. The Choir caught the attention of all who attended the World Shoe Association forum at the Las Vegas convention centre. The company which was only 5 hours old had already made it into the headlines on some of the magazines at the convention, after the sterling performance by the Choir. The Choir also recorded a jingle for the Okobos Company within the same period of time.

Three months later the Choir was again back in the U.S. to perform at a Rock Concert as the Curtain raisers with Artistes; Death Cab for Cutie, Jewel among others, giving impressive performances.


KBC - Henry front

2010 saw the choir tour the greater U.K. on a series of performances from Britain, Wales, Ireland to Scotland with massive audiences enthralled by the cultural display staged by the choir.

In January 2011, the choir was invited by WE Charity Organisation to perform for Grammy award winner Nelly Furtado who was in Kenya on a charity mission. She was thrilled by their performance of an articulate Africanized rendition of her hit song “Powerless” and was left in awe.

In June 2011 the choir performed with sensational UK Artist Ely Goulding at a performance organized by Free the Children In Maasai Mara and the audience were mesmerized by the choir’s performance of her hit song “Lights”.

In September 2011, WE Charity Organisation invited the choir to participate in WE DAY celebrations in Toronto, Canada where the choir performed before thousands of enthusiasts in Air Canada Centre Arena. The choir also got an opportunity to share the stage with

  • Grammy Award winner, Nelly Furtado
  • Popular Canadian rapper and producer  Kardinal Offishall
  • Renowned Canadian artists and performers: City and Colour, Nikki Yanofsky and Neverest Band
  • Platinum selling, JUNO Award winning Canadian pop icon and producer, Shawn Desman

Dignitaries that the choir interacted with during the tour include

  • Mary Robinson; first female President of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Patch Adams; social activist, citizen diplomat and author
  • Rick Hansen, Canadian Paralympian
  • DEGRASSI actors Munro Chambers and Aislinn Paul
  • Award winning actor, film director and political activist, Danny Glover

It was also during this performance that they collaborated with Nelly Furtado in singing her hit song ‘Powerless’. The choir also got the exceptional opportunity to feature on Nelly Furtado’s album ‘The Spirit Indestructible’ and recorded with her a track entitled ‘Thoughts’.

In June 2012, their Fourth album Liberty was recorded in Nanyuki Kenya and it featured compositions, folk tunes and arrangements of applauded pop tunes. The album was launched in Canada in 2013.

In June 2012, through the invitation of WE Charity Organisation, the choir serenaded assorted personalities ,artists and audiences from all over the world at Maasai Mara including

  • Nelly Furtado– Grammy and Juno award-winner and Free The Children ambassador


In April 2013, the choir went down in the books of history by being among the cream of Kenyan artists that performed during the inauguration of the fourth president of Kenya, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta.

Many international artists visited the country in 2013 courtesy of WE Charity Organisation and the choir continued with their unmatched reputation of adding value and staging unforgettable presentations of their hit songs. The artists comprised

  • Jonas Jonas–Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum artists
  • Demi Lovato – Award-winning singer-songwriter and Free The Children ambassador
  • Victoria Duffield – Canadian singer, actor and dancer
  • Tyler Shaw – Certified gold selling artist and Free The Children Ambassador
  • Kay – Canadian singer-songwriter
  • Kardinal Offishall– Award-winning Canadian rapper and record producer.
  • Nelly Furtado– Grammy and Juno award-winner and Free The Children ambassador

These artists could not resist but get on stage to perform with the choir. It was also during this year that the choir was highly commended by luminaries from various walks of life who were in the country in support of Free the Children. They held that not only was the choir’s performance breath taking, but it made them long for their next visit to the country.

In September 2013, the choir embarked on their first ever three month tour to North America courtesy of Free the Children where they performed more than 300 shows spreading love and joy to hundreds of thousands in Canada and United States while championing for F.T.C’S Campaign; Be the Change. The choir shared the stage with world renowned artists including

  • Imagine Dragons – Award-winning, multi-platinum rock band
  • Austin Mahone  – Award-Winning American pop singer and YouTube sensation
  • Serena Ryder – JUNO Award-winning artist
  • Jonas Brothers – GRAMMY®-nominated, multi-platinum artists
  • Hedley – Multi-platinum, JUNO and MMVA Award-winning recording artists
  • Down With Webster – Five time JUNO Award nominated, platinum selling genre-defying band with new album, Party for your Life, coming out October 22nd

  • Jonas Brothers –Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum artists
  • Carly Rae Jepsen – Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum singer-songwriter
  • Fifth Harmony – America’s first teen girl group
  • Bridgit Mendler– Platinum selling artist and star of Disney’s Good Luck Charlie
  • Jesse Giddings– E! News correspondent and Free The Children ambassador
  • Bare-naked Ladies – JUNO Award-winning rock band
  • Cast members from the Emmy-nominated TV series DEGRASSI
  • Lights – JUNO Award winner and Canadian electro-rock singer, songwriter
  • Victoria Duffield – Canadian singer, actor and dancer
  • Tyler Shaw – Certified gold selling artist and Free The Children ambassador
  • Neverest – Chart-topping, MMVA nominated Canadian pop-rock band
  • Kay – Canadian singer-songwriter
  • Donisha Prendergast – Filmmaker, actress, dancer, poet and Bob and Rita Marley’s granddaughter

Memories of spectacular collaborations of the choir with trending artists remain edged in minds of fans who were thrilled during WE Day 2013. These artists included

  • Demi Lovato– Award-winning singer-songwriter and Free The Children ambassador
  • Darren Criss – Cast member from the Emmy Award-winning series Glee (host for We Day Toronto)
  • Chris Tse – Me to We inspirational speaker, national spoken-word champion and humanitarian
  • Nelly Furtado– Grammy and JUNO award-winner and Free The Children ambassador
  • Shawn Desman– Platinum-selling, JUNO and MMVA Award-winning recording artist and host of We Day Alberta
  • Kardinal Offishall– Award-winning Canadian rapper and record producer
  • Karl Wolf– International recording artist, Socan& MTV Europe Music Award winner
  • The Tenors– Juno Award-winning Multi-platinum singers
  • Hedley – Multi-platinum, JUNO and MMVA Award-winning recording artists

The Choir also got to interact with luminaries who were motivational speakers during this tour and imparted the noble initiative of being the Change they want around the world.

  • Craig and Marc Kielburger– International activists and co-founders of Free The Children
  • Kofi Annan – Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Laureate, who has recently launched the ‘Kofi Annan Dialogues’, a series of online conversations inspiring young people to lead
  • The Honourable Kathleen Wynne – Premier of Ontario
  • Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – President of Liberia and first elected female Head of State in Africa
  • Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan
  • Martin Luther King III – Human Rights advocate and eldest son of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Barbara Pierce Bush – Humanitarian, Co-founder and President, Global Health Corps, and daughter of Former US President George W. Bush
  • Col. Chris Hadfield – Retired Canadian astronaut and first Canadian to walk in space\
  • Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons – CFL Hall of Famer, Vice Chair of the Toronto Argonauts
  • Youth speakers – Hannah Alper, Vishal Vijay, and Sydney Brouillard-Coyle
  • Spencer West – Me to We inspirational speaker, Free The Children ambassador, author and double amputee who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands and in his wheelchair in June, 2012
  • Molly Burke – Visually impaired Me to We motivational speaker who speaks out against bullying and the power of hope
  • Robin Wiszowaty – Me to We motivational speaker, author and Free The Children Program Director in Ghana and Kenya
  • The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire – Lieutenant-General and author
  • MTV hosts Aliya-Jasmine Sovani and Scott Willats (hosts for We Day Vancouver).
  • Mark Dayton – Governor of Minnesota
  • Brenda Cassellius– Commissioner of Education, Minnesota
  • Chris Coleman– Mayor of St. Paul
  • Debby Ryan– Disney Channel actress and musician
  • Mia Farrow– Award-winning actress, activist and United Nations ambassador
  • Jack Jablonski– Local Benilde – St. Margaret’s teen who suffered a spinal cord injury during a hockey game
  • Marissa Mohammed – Youth speaker from the Banyan Community Center
  • Native Pride Arts – Indigenous youth performers whose mission is to educate, inspire, motivate and empower diverse communities
  • Magic Johnson– NBA legend, two-time hall of famer and philanthropist
  • Amanda Lindhout– New York Times best-selling author of A House in the Sky, Founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation
  • Mikhail Gorbachev – Former President of the Soviet Union and Nobel Peace Laureate
  • Liz Murray – Author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Breaking Night: My Journey from Homeless to Harvard
  • Hannah Taylor – 16 year old social activist and founder of The Ladybug Foundation and The Ladybug Foundation Education Program
  • Honourable Justice Sinclair – Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Manitoba’s first Aboriginal Judge
  • Jillian Martin – Miss Teen Canada-World 2013
  • Martin Sheen – Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning actor and activist
  • Wilson and Jackson – Maasai warriors, authors of The Last Maasai Warriors; and Free The Children ambassadors
  • Mia Farrow– Award-winning actress, activist and United Nations ambassador

Introducing Our New Feature – Spotlight on a Music Student

At FFM, we want to highlight new and aspiring musical talent wherever we find it and where better than the many Music Colleges, Universities and Schools around the world. Our new feature ‘Spotlight on a Music Student’ is an opportunity for you or someone you know to step into the spotlight and share your talent, dreams and ambitions with the musical world.

All you have to do is send us your information, pictures, videos, sound clips and links  and we will compile your feature.

email direct to

Much love and happy music making,

The FFM team

Check out the latest from FFM Featured Artist Deena Ade

‘The One for You’ by Deena Ade featuring Idris King

“My first song recorded and released since moving to Lagos featuring the sweetest @idriskingvibes.

Something short and sweet, like me.


Deena Ade is currently releasing a song a month for a year which will be followed up by an LP project, set to be released in November titled “THE FEMINIST”. As her talents and fan base continues to grow, she emphasises on people not to over look as her, as she is the future of the African Music Industry. As she says ” It doesn’t matter what people say, as long as they like my music’. 

Today’s FFM Stage belongs to Eric Star and Sisi Eko ‘Omalicha’

Eric Star – Official You-Tube Channel of Nigerian Afro pop star, singer, songwriter, producer and entertainment artiste.


How to play Sina Makosa – From FFM Kenyan Ambassador King’oi Mkenya

By King’oi Mkenya – FFM Ambassador for Kenya

One of the things I would like to do as ambassador is to demonstrate that Kenyan/East African music has produced evergreens that have left a mark, and stand out in expressing the themes of our lives.
I have always wanted to explain the hypnotic and catchy way in which African guitar-based popular music is often driven by just three chords in a riff that cycles over and over but has enough variation and colour to keep the audience listening and the dancers moving.
One such song is “Sina Makosa” (I have no fault), a Kiswahili classic from the early 70’s that still enjoys radio airplay today and captures ever younger audiences. It was written by two brothers, George Peter and Wilson Peter Kinyonga, Tanzanians who moved into Nairobi to take advantage of the thriving live entertainment and recording industry of the time.
They performed in smoky clubs, playing all-nighters to entertain revelers. Fortunately, they also recorded this song and many others, which are often to be found on YouTube channels.

Sina Makosa (1) (will open pdf of TABS and Notation)

What I have done is to enter the notation and TABS into Notion, generated a synthesized rendition of the two main lead guitar riffs, and provided an excellent tutorial on YouTube by a young guitarist.
It is my desire that beginning and intermediate guitarists will listen and learn the tune.

If this has been helpful to you, please help us by clicking on our sponsor’s ads. It won’t cost you anything but we will get a few pence per click.
Much love and happy music making,
Roger Moisan