Google Doodle celebrates Hugh Masekela - here is what you need to know about this African jazz legend

April 4, 2019, is the late star's 80th birthday.

Masekela was affectionately known as "Bra Hugh"

Google is celebrating the late Hugh Masekela, also known as Bra Hugh, with a doodle.

In honour of his 80th birthday, today, April 4, 2019, a picture of the brightly dressed legend blowing his trumpet can be found on the doodle home page.

His birthday anniversary doodle can only seen in South Africa, the US, UK, and a couple of other countries. 

Here is what you need to know about the world-renowned South African trumpeter, singer, songwriter & human rights advocate.

Origin story

Masekela was born on April 4, 1939, in the town of Witbank, South Africa. His love for trumpets started after he saw the film "Young Man With a Horn". He got his first trumpet from his activist father, Trevor Huddleston, at age 14.

Music career/activism

After getting his trumpet, he formed the Huddleston Jazz Band. By the late 1950s, Masekela had started working on his signature, Afro-Jazz sound. He went on to play with the now legendary South African group known as the Jazz Epistles. They were the first all-black jazz band to record an album in South African history.

Masekela was also an activist. Like other creatives of his time, he used his gifts to fight for change and human rights. Despite being exiled for 31 years during the repressive apartheid government, he continued fighting for his country through his music. Some of his popular songs like his anti-apartheid anthem 'Bring Home Nelson Mandela' (1986) were used during the apartheid struggle. 

He once said, "My biggest obsession is to show Africans and the world who the people of Africa really are." He is known as the "father of South African jazz".

Critical acclaim/honours

His smash instrumental single 'Grazin' in the Grass' topped the American pop charts. In 1968. he became the first African male Grammy nominee. He also won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the CHOMVA, Ghana Music Awards, Jazz FM Awards and MAMAs.

His final album, No Borders, got a SAMA for Best Adult Contemporary in 2017. During his incredible career, he released over 40 albums which featured big acts like Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Miriam Makeba.  

Before his death, he received the highest order in South Africa: The Order of Ikhamanga. He also got a Lifetime Achievement award at the WOMEX World Music Expo in 2011. The US Virgin Islands proclaimed 'Hugh Masekela Day' in March 2011. 


Masekela passed away on January 23, 2018. He died after battling with prostate cancer.


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