His music was like a voice for a culture and people, it vibrated with rhythms of destiny and liberty. His name: Hugh Ramopolo Masekela.

His musical soul presented itself early. He started at the piano. Then, inspired by the film Young Man with a Horn, he turned to the trumpet. As a youth, he mastered the instrument, eventually playing in South Africa’s first youth orchestra, the Huddleston Jazz band. It was the band’s namesake Trevor Huddleston who secured a gift for Masekela: a trumpet from Louis Armstrong.

The music was a voice of the people and the harsh struggles against injustice: apartheid. Like music around the world which has helped in part to energize, soothe, distract, express, fuel, and drive change for the just and better, Masekela was one of the artform’s many vanguards. He wielded his music with as much skill as any otherwise armed warrior.

In exile, he studied in London and then in New York, meeting and become friends with Harry Belafonte. There, he was immersed and electrified by the charge of the heightened struggles of the American civil rights movement. The charm of his music came from his soul and the music of his culture and people. He brought the music of South Africa to the world, sharing its identities and realities. It has a unique message delivering infectiousness. The legacy is a soundscape, seasoned with rhythm and melody, of universal message of liberty, politic, culture, and spirit.