Saturday, September 15, 2007

African Songbird

In the late seventies and early eighties when my musical horizons were starting to expand it was incredibly difficult to come across historical information about South African artists, especially those that chose to speak out against the South African government's brutal policy of Apartheid. Mentioning the name Sathima Bea Benjamin typically drew a blank, or little more than: oh you mean Dollar Brand's wife. The recording I have put up for download was one that few people had, recorded onto dodgy C60 tapes and re-copied. The vinyl comes courtesy of Andre with transportation by Chris (thanks!). The vinyl is a bit mashed but the music still stands out.

Today of course with the help of the internet you can find out a whole lot more about Sathima:
*She has her own website here
*More info via All About Jazz
*She was with Ibrahim when he was "noticed" in Montreau by Duke fact she recorded a session with the Duke that was lost for over 30 years and only recently re-issued
*Most of here recordings will become available digitally via iTunes (I recommend the recording with Duke Ellington and the greatest hits CD)
*Her daughter - born in South Africa at the time of the mid-seventies recordings - is none other than underground hip-hop artist Jean Grae...find out more here.

Its worth remembering that South African jazz recordings, and especially Abdullah Ibrahim's pieces Mannenberg, Soweto and African Herbs came to signify something more than music for pleasure and relaxation. Barely a few months after these classic recordings were made the youth of Soweto rose up and laid the platform for the resurgence of the ANC and its ongoing struggle against the Apartheid government. Enough said...this is a South Africa classic...enjoy


The Duke with Sathima in Paris 1962


sm said...


Sathima sends her thanks for the shout-out!

Regarding iTunes - A Morning in Paris, her album with the Duke, will be out October 16...

Fd said...

Grat blog you have! Please, copuld you upload it again? Link has expired. Regards

Gato Medio said...

Looks like I got to the party long after everybody else left. I have been looking for "African Songbird" ever since I managed to download two tracks from Soulseek. Now I want the whole record!
So I'll second Fd's request (even though I don't know how old it is) to re-upload this album. PLEASE?


p o w e r said...

yes please re up - this is an amazing lp

Anonymous said...

Does somebody know who are the musician with her on African Songbird (except Dollar brand)

matt said...

All the details are here: