Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thank You Miriam Makeba

From DG:
If a four year old can be said to have had her consciousness raised, then Miriam Makeba raised mine (along with Odetta, but that’s a story for another day). I loved listening to her sing with that voice like a siren, but it wasn’t alarming. It drew me in. Even though I didn’t understand the language, I got the feeling. I tried to make the Xhosa tongue clicks to accompany her on Qongqothwane, The Click Song. That’s a long way from Mary Had a Little Lamb, but who said music that appeals to children has to be childish. I loved Suliram. It’s a lullaby—actually Indonesian, it means ‘go to sleep—and when she sang I’d climb into the arm chair, curl up and close my eyes to listen, not because I was tired, but because she was so soothing.

And I loved to look at her. I loved her long, flowing clothes in brilliant colors. Now, this was seriously the days of the press-n-curl—no woman I had ever seen (other than Odetta) had short natural hair that let her beautiful face radiate. At the time it was unusual to me, but not odd or strange. Later, I was the first girl in my class to cut my hair into an Afro, and I was proud!

I had the pleasure of seeing Miriam Makeba several times in my life. The first was a free concert in Mt Morris Park (before it was renamed Marcus Garvey Park) in Harlem on a sweltering summer day. We got there hours before the concert was to start to claim a spot (and if memory serves me correctly, it started late, but the party didn’t wait).There were dashikis and dancing, barbecue and b-y-o congas. I’m sure you could hear Pata Pata down in Central Park.

It’s called ‘World Music’ now, but I thank Ms Makeba for bringing the world of music to a little girl in Brooklyn.

Here’s a sample, with those Xhosa clicks.

Click here: YouTube - Miriam Makeba - Oxgam {Studio Version}

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 10:10 AM


Blogger Carleen Brice said...

December is National Buy a Book by a Black Author and Give it to Somebody Not Black Month. Check it out:

12:57 PM  

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