I met Miriam Makeba for the first time at the Angoulême festival in France in 1986; I think it was on May 10.
I admit I was overawed by the entrance she made into the backstage area, with a large entourage of people hovering around her, people wanting to shake her hand, musicians trying to get a glimpse of this legend and security heavies trying to keep them at bay.
While Cuban orchestra Los Van Van were preparing to go on stage, I was introduced to Ms. Makeba by a mutual friend whom she knew from her Guinean period. The warmth of her approach immediately put me at ease. She struck me as a very good listener. We talked about various subjects, until some very nervous people from the organisation rushed in and announced that Jack Lang (who at that time was the former 'ministre de la Culture') was there and wanted to see her. "I am talking with this man", was her reply. M. Lang was left waiting....
I would be lying if I would claim to be a big fan of Ms. Makeba's music. Personally I blame this on the influence of her US period, and the overproduction that is a side effect of this influence.
To demonstrate this I am posting a pre-mix recording of the album "Sangoma", which I am told is one of her more personal albums. I obtained this through South African guitarist and flautist Russell Herman (who died far too young in 1998), who had copied it from fellow Kintone member Tony Cedras, who plays the piano in this recording.
Whenever I feel down I play this and remember the humanity of this great African sangoma.
Global Sampler vol. 50 – Various Artists
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