CD Review: Miriam Makeba, Homeland

by
Miriam Makeba
[Putumayo, PUTU 164-2]

International African superstar Miriam Makeba has struck gold again with her first studio release in six years, entitled “Homeland.” Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1932, Miriam spent the first six months of her life in prison with her mother under the Apartheid system. She was exiled from South Africa in 1960 and took refuge in the United States where she became the first African to win a Grammy for her 1965 collaboration with Harry Belafonte, “An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba.” Her marriage to Black Panther founder, Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Toure), resulted in harassment by the U.S. government and eventually lead her relocation to Guinea. After her move, Miriam represented Guinea as a delegate to the United Nations. After twice addressing the U.N. General Assembly on the horrors of Apartheid, she was not allowed to return to her homeland until 1990. She has performed for Haile Selassie, Fidel Castro, and John F. Kennedy, among others. It is no wonder that Miriam Makeba has earned the title “Mama Africa” as she has served as an uplifting source of strength and a voice of the oppressed.

Released on the Putumayo World Music label, “Homeland” has a strong contemporary feel, yet maintains an unfading traditional sound. The first single off of the album, “Pata Pata 2000,” is a modern version of her 1956 recording of the same name which became her biggest international hit after it was released in the United States. The serious nature of this album’s lyrical content is beautifully balanced with a message of transcendence and love as exemplified in the album’s fourth track, “‘Cause We Live for Love”: “Open your hearts for our children and the universe to love and hold, embracing the good in those who feel they must give of themselves, ’cause we live for love and love lives through all.”

“Homeland” showcases the diverse vocal styles of Miriam Makeba, ranging from pop to jazz to folk, furthering the accessibility of her message. This long awaited album is sophisticated yet uplifting and very danceable, another great achievement by this extraordinary woman.




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