by W. Kim Heron
Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba are hands down the king and queen of South African music. The onetime husband and wife gained worldwide pop cred as hit-makers in the ’60s while agitating for the end of the apartheid regime back home — which, in recognition of their work, banned both them and their records. Of course, post-apartheid, they’re heroes. (If you only know them from Paul Simon’s Graceland tour, that’s the mere iceberg tip of the tale.)
Masekela is a heavy touring-type who’s been to Detroit so many times we’ve lost count. Three times that we can think of in the last few years alone. (Once, years ago, we saw him slip into the Cass Corridor jam session like a local.) But Makeba! We can’t remember the last she came through. So our hats off to the folks at the Detroit Festival of the Arts who’ve snagged her — now 78 years old — as their weekend closer for Sunday, June 8th. Coming three years after what was supposed to be a farewell tour, this is reportedly one of only two U.S. dates she’s slated.
Among the other musical acts: Mavericks co-founder Raul Malo, Latin alt-folkloricoists Pistolera, Moby Grape’s Peter Lewis with David West, bluesman Guy Davis. That’s in addition to the usual stew of theater, dance and outdoor art with the note of spectacle that plays to the outdoor setting.
Meanwhile, speaking of festivals, the Detroit International Jazz Festival is looking for volunteers to do everything, from helping to sell merch to acting as drivers to the (jazz) stars. Minimum commitment is a couple of six-hour shifts. Info at www.detroitjazzfest.com or call 313-647-0149, ext, 307.
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