WOMEX have announced that this year's Award for Artists goes to Hugh Masekela, the trumpet prodigy, fiery denouncer of Apartheid and Afro-jazz pioneer from South Africa.
Since its introduction in 1999, the WOMEX Award has been honouring high points of world music on the international level. Musical excellence, social importance, commercial success, political impact, lifetime achievement – any or all of these might make one a worthy recipient. In Hugh Masekela's case, it's a definite 'all'!
Masekela has had a remarkable career since he first picked up a trumpet more than half a century ago, and (thankfully) he shows no sign of putting it down. It was the instrument that helped him find his voice to sound out against the injustice and suffering inflicted on millions of South Africans by Apartheid, and it helped him break out during those dark days to bring a musical communiqué to the rest of the world. From success in the US pop charts in the 60s, through the Afro-jazz experiments of the 70s, returning to Africa and touring with Paul Simon in the 80s and on until today, he has not stopped releasing albums, touring the world and engaging in new collaborative projects. At 72 years young, to paraphrase one of his album titles, the boy's still doin' it!
He will perform on 30 October during the WOMEX Award Ceremony (open to WOMEX delegates only). The laudation will be offered by Francis Gay, Head of Music at WDR Funkhaus Europa in Cologne, Germany.