There’s a captivating and enduring charisma heard on Reflections, the first release in four years from legendary South African musical treasure and Grammy Award winner Miriam Makeba. This brilliantly updated retrospective album highlights new arrangements that capture Mama Africa’s remarkable vocal power and artistry.
A pioneer who blended different styles long before anyone even began to talk about “world music,” no collection of African music should be without one of Makeba’s recordings. Reflections features thirteen classic tracks – including early songs she originally recorded as a member of the Manhattan Brothers and The Skylarks through to her trademark hits, “Pata Pata” and “The Click Song” – and ventures deep into the remarkable career of South Africa’s most important female vocalist.
The album opens with a summery version of “Iyaguduza,” which features stunning new horn arrangements, followed by “Pata Pata,” a song that played a particularly large role in making Makeba a household name.
Makeba has always enjoyed singing in other languages, and “Comme Une Symphonie D’Amour,” first sung by Makeba in the early ‘80s, is a showcase for her extraordinary vocal range. “Mas Que Nada” and “Xica Da Silva” are bossa nova classics from the pen of Brazilian songwriter Jorge Ben.
Other highlights include an enchanting arrangement of her hit “The Click Song” and the Pan African-inspired “African Convention,” written by Hugh Masekela, (with whom Makeba was briefly married) and Stanley Todd. “I’m in Love with Spring,” is a swinging, lushly orchestrated composition from Bill Salter, her Grammy-winning bass player in the ‘60s, and “Love Tastes Like Strawberries” is a pensive ballad from the same era.
“I Shall Sing” was written when the exiled singer lived in Guinea. “Quit It,” with its anti-drug message, was composed in the ‘70s by her late daughter, Bongi Makeba, and Calphus Semenya, while “Ring Bell” is a pop anthem from her landmark 1967 Pata Pata album. Reflections concludes with “Where Are You Going?,” a moody jazz opus written by Masekela.
Born in 1932 in Johannesburg, Miriam Makeba first came to the public’s attention as a featured vocalist with the Manhattan Brothers. She soon left to record with her all-woman group the Skylarks while touring Southern Africa with Alf Herberts’ African Jazz and Variety. In 1963, after testifying about apartheid before the United Nations, the South African government revoked her citizenship. She remained in the U. S. and married Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael, but they eventually fled to Guinea on the West African Coast. Makeba returned to world prominence in 1987 when she performed with Paul Simon on the Graceland tour. In 1990, she finally returned to her homeland as a free South African. (concordmusicgroup. com)
Comme une Symphonie d'Amour
Mas Que Nada
I'm in Love With Spring
Xica da Silva
Love Tastes Like Strawberries
I Shall Sing
Where Are You Going?
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