Video

Okayafrica TV: Janka Nabay and The Bubu Gang

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"From Reggae to Bubu," jokes Janka Nabay about the history of his roots with Sierra Leonean Bubu music. Janka had just come from his home in D.C. when we met him at Zebulon to discuss his new releases, tour, and the Bubu Gang vibe. As the story goes, he was performing reggae at a battle of the bands when the groups were asked if they knew any traditional Sierra Leonean songs. Janka performed an off-the-cuff version of an old Bubu tune and the judges went nuts. The rest is Bubu history. Janka recently put out An Letah EP on True Panther and is awaiting his debut full-length with David Byrne's Luaka Bop imprint. Watch him and the Bubu Gang's lightening-fast rhythm section in the video above. And catch them live at these locations below.

JANKA NABAY TOUR DATES

3/14-17- SXSW

*** official showcase is globalFEST on the 16th, 8pm***

3/18 - Denton, TX @ Rubbergloves

3/22 - Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Festival

3/24 - Denver, CO @ Hi Dive

3/25 - Omaha, NE @ Slowdown

3/26 - Milwaukee, WI @ Mad Planet

3/27 - Muncie, IN @ The Center Stage

3/28 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Belvedere's

3/29 - Harrisburg, PA @ 29th Stage on Herr

 

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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