News Brief

A Miriam Makeba Biopic is in the Works

The Miriam Makeba movie we've been waiting for is finally in development.

This month marks eight years since the world lost one of its most important voices, “Mama Africa” Miriam Makeba. And although the life and legacy of the late South African singer, activist and icon were explored in a 2011 documentary (Mika Kaurismäki’s Mama Africa), the film community has yet to pay proper tribute to Makeba.


This will soon change.

As Deadline and a number of other outlets have reported today, the Miriam Makeba biopic the world needs is officially in development.

FINALLY.

Currently untitled, the movie is in partnership with the Miriam Makeba EstateMiriam Makeba Foundation and Mama Africa Cultural & Social Trust, and it’s being produced by de Passe Jones Entertainment's Suzanne de Passe, who penned the script to the 1972 Billie Holiday film Lady Sings The Blues, and her longtime business partner, Madison Jones. Also on board to produce are Broadway producer Willette Klausner, music producer David Franco and Makeba’s former publicist and confidant, the journalist Marc Le Chat.

Not much else has been revealed. We’ll continue to keep you updated as the project continues to develop.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few of the singer’s greatest hits.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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