Zenzile: The Reimagination Of Miriam Makeba
(Salon Africana)

South Africa’s Miriam Makeba was the first African musician to achieve international fame. Her many hits, and a 1965 Grammy award, gave her a platform to address apartheid and worldwide discrimination against Black people. Although they never met, Somi considers her a mentor and pays tribute to her on this collection. These 17 songs from Makeba’s repertoire have been transformed with more of a jazz feel and the polish of modern production values. “Pata Pata” is the most atypical example. The tune is remade as a sound collage, with samples from Makeba’s various anti-apartheid interviews spliced between with brief snippets of the melody. The rest are more straightforward. “Unhomme,” the a capella track from Makeba’s debut, becomes a slow ballad. “A Piece Of Ground” was originally a folky protest song; Somi gives it a swinging, jazz-funk groove. Collaborators include Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Gregory Porter and Angelique Kidjo.

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