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Hugh Masekela Concert at UMASS

The renowned African musician Hugh Masekela held a Concert on Wednesday October 13th, 2010 at 7:30PM in the Bowker Auditorium. It was the last of the three events hosted by him and his son Salema “Sal” Masekela entertainment reporter for ESPN and E!.

The auditorium was filled with a diverse audience of fans that consisted of people of all ages, races, and class. Some were students, some faculty and there were even people from outside of the UMass and 5-College community.

Kulya Nzogu, 39 came all the way from New Haven Connecticut to see Masekela perform. As a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo he connects with the music very well. He states, “The music is great, the message is great…He is more than just a musician.”

His music, a hybrid of jazz, pop, and the stories of Africa has touched millions of people. One of those people is Jessica Cook, 32, who has been a fan of Masekela for nearly 11 years. This performance was her first time seeing him live. “I'm not a jazz fan but because [Masekela] is Afro-jazz it has more of a predictable rhythm, more of a dance rhythm.” Cook says.

Once enough people filled the room, an introduction was done by his son Salema “Sal” Masekela who was quite taken with Amherst. “I took a run down the bike path and discovered God” he said. He also showed a great amount of love and respect for his father, as well as his youthful demeanor on stage.

As the show began audience members jumped at the closest open seat totally ignoring assignments. In time because of Masekela's charisma, by the second song a few audience members in the balcony seats began to dance. As Nzogu said, “He performs like a man who is 20 years old, not 70!”

His songs touched on the themes of love, suffering, and uniting Africa. He performed one of his most famous songs, “Stimela” and dedicated it to “all those people who are really catching hell”. By the end of the concert most of the crowd was standing up, clapping, dancing or engaging on some combination of the three.

In addition to playing the trumpet and doing vocals, Masekela also played a few percussion instruments. Performing with him was: Abednigo Sibongiseni Zulu on the Bass guitar, Francis Manneh Edward Fuster as Percussion and Vocals, Cameron John Ward as Guitar and Vocals, Randal Slippers on the keyboard and doing vocals, and Lee-Roy Sauls as Drums and Vocals.

Masekela also engaged in screening of the documentary film “Umlando - Through My Father's Eye” and an “Artist Talk” both with his son Salema Masekela. The documentary can be found on ESPN.

Netha Gill - Website Reporter/Editor