Songs We Taught Your Mother #3

23 Sep 2018 - 20:00

 

Songs We Taught Your Mother #3 

 

Nonku Phiri in dialogue with Letta Mbulu's Letta (1970)

 
Emma Tricard, Niklas Blomberg & the Mysterious Third Person in dialogue with the musical style of the New Orleans jazz pianist Sweet Emma Barrett.

 

Shanti Suki Osman uses sound and song in dialogue with Usha Uthup: the unlikely, self-taught, sari clad Jazz singer from Mumbai, who was criticised for ‘only’ ever playing to the audience and responsible for transforming India’s jazz scene of the late 1969s from male dominated dens to family shows.

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Letta Mbulu was born in Soweto and, during her teens, she toured South Africa and then England with the musical King Kong. She returned to South Africa at the end of the tour but was soon forced into exile in the United States. While in the states she was invited to tour with Cannonball Adderly and soon thereafter joined forces with Harry Belafonte.

She has been a member of the prestigious Union of South African Artists, where she became exposed to folk, American Jazz and Brazilian music, and has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson. She also acted in the film Roots for which she received an Emmy award. Her other screen appearances include A warm December with Sidney Pottier and The Colour Purple. She is a founding member of the South African Artists United (SAAU) an organisation which was established in 1986. This organisation launched the musical Buwa that carried a political and historical theme with Letta in the leading role.

The 1970 album Letta (A&M) yielded several wondrous performances, including "Buza," "Baile Baneso," "Hareje" and "Mamani"

On their return to South Africa, Letta and Caiphus performed in the Unity '91 Festival that marked the first time they had shared a stage with other fellow musicians on home soil. In 1992 she released a new album entitled Not Yet Uhuru.

In 2001, Letta Mbulu was honored by the South African Music Awards for lifetime achievement.

But while Letta Mbulu continues to perform actively in South Africa, she has only sporadically recorded as a soloist (2007’s Culani Nami is her most recent album and it’s only available in South Africa) and does not have the name or presence she deserves outside of South Africa or certain European underground circuits. 

Letta Mbulu "Letta"