1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Emabhaceni – Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba

Fans of Miriam Makeba had to wait a long time between her 1979 album, ‘Comme Un Symphonie D’Amour’ and her 1988 offering ‘Sangoma’. However, the opening track to her long awiated offering would have had people agreeing that it was worth the wait as ‘Emabhaceni’ finds Miriam in strong voice and with Brenda Fassie and Hugh Masekela helping out with backing vocals who could complain?

Google translates the song’s title as ‘in the beds’ which doesn’t really make sense to me. However, the translated lyrics that accompany the Youtube video (link below) talk of the rain passing and it becoming a perfect day. It also talks of ‘hidden violets grow splashed with summer spray’ so perhaps the ‘beds’ that Google refs to are flower beds. However, even if you have no idea what Miriam is singing about, the pure joy of listening to the vocal harmonies which are accompanied by some sparse drumming makes the language somewhat beside the point.

Miriam was one of the greats of South African music and despite spending a large part of her life in exile during the apartheid years, she never forgot her roots as this song proved. It is drenched in South African sounds and, given that her comeback album was inspired by touring with Paul Simon who had released ‘Graceland’ a couple of years before, it is not surprising. ‘Emabhaceni’ awakens feelings that were ‘in the beds’ and brings a life assuring feel to the day.

Where to find it:
Miriam Makeba – Mama Afrika 1932 – 2008 (2008), Gallo


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