Skip to page content

Miriam Makeba

About this Artist

South Africa's legendary musical sensation, MIRIAM MAKEBA, who returned to her homeland after 30 years in exile, has something to sing about. Her career continues to soar, as demands for performances from countries around the world continue to flood in. 1998 was spent touring Africa, USA, and Europe. As an example of her fame, when touring Scandinavia, where Miriam sold out the longest tour ever made there, she sold out theatres beyond the Polar Circle, too.

In 1995 Miriam Makeba started a charity project to raise funds helping to protect women in South Africa. She closed 1995 in Italy with an audience with Pope John Paul II, and a performance at the Vatican Nervi Hall that was televised worldwide and titled "Christmas In The Vatican." Her engagements included a photographic shoot with Iman and David Bowie for Vogue America, a pre-sold tour through Australia performing at the Brisbane Biennial, in Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth, and repeated tours of the USA and Europe, performing in Italy, Germany, and Austria, an invitation by President Ben Ali of Tunisia to perform at the Carthage Music Festival, a performance with Marianne Faithfull and Dee Dee Bridgewater, "La Marche Du Siècle" television program regarding woman in Paris and the Beijing gathering. In South Africa alone, performances were staged and many television shows were filmed; her documentary, produced by The South Bank Show, was released and presented at the Cannes Film Festival. There were performances for the President, Nelson Mandela, endorsements for anti-drug campaigns, supporting education, The Orlando Children's Home, interviewing Mrs. Tambo on People of the South presented by Lali Tambo, and finally she became a great grandmother.

Miriam Makeba now tours the world with her eight-member band, introducing new songs and ballads with great success.

Miriam's recent compact discs "Sing Me A Song" and "Eyes on Tomorrow" (Polydor), and the newest one, "Homeland," rich with emotions and remarkable duets, prove once more that the voice that has been described as "deep as the Indian Ocean and sparkling as the diamonds of her own country," is one of the most valuable assets ever exported. Released worldwide, the compact discs features a collection of songs - from upbeat to the plaintive - showing the vocal range and power of this celebrated performer.

Born in Johannesburg in 1932, Miriam began her career as the vocalist for The Manhattan Brothers. Her appearance in the late '50s in the documentary "Come Back Africa" led to invitations for her to visit Europe and America, where she came to the attention of Harry Belafonte and Steve Allen and was catapulted to stardom.

In 1960, Miriam was banned from returning to the country of her birth, and she was forced to spend the next 30 years as a "citizen of the world."

Despite the pain of isolation from her home, the United States took her to its collective heart with performances at the country's most prestigious venues, as well as constant television performances.

Her 1967 release of "Pata Pata" became a hit worldwide and has since been re-recorded by numerous international artists. Her recording career blossomed and she released records for RCA, Reprise, and many others. She was received by such world leaders as Hailé Selassie, Fidel Castro, John F. Kennedy, and François Mitterrand.

Miriam Makeba has been a Guinean delegate to the United Nations, where she twice addressed the General Assembly, speaking out against the evils of apartheid.

Although she has always regarded herself as a singer and not as a politician, Miriam's fearless humanitarianism has earned her many International awards, including the 1986 Dag Hammerskjold Peace Prize.

Through the years, both Miriam's personal and professional life have been equally tumultuous, with her highly public commitment to and continuous fight for racial equality; Miriam is Mama Africa, a peace and freedom warrior who restlessly gave and still gives the voice to millions of people against the evils of all racism. Her exceptional personal and artistic profile is part of the history of this century, all adding to the dramatic elements of an extraordinary life, making Miriam Makeba a living legend.

Her powerful and distinctive voice retains the clarity and range that enable it to be as forceful as a protest march and as poignant as an African lullaby.