Musical Echoes tells the life story of the South African jazz vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin. Born in Cape Town in the 1930s, Benjamin came to know American jazz and popular music through the radio, movies, records, and live stage and dance band performances. She was especially moved by the voice of Billie Holiday. In 1962 she and Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) left South Africa together for Europe, where they met and recorded with Duke Ellington. Benjamin and Ibrahim spent their lives on the move between Europe, the United States, and South Africa until 1977, when they left Africa for New York City and declared their support for the African National Congress. In New York, Benjamin established her own record company and recorded her music independently from Ibrahim. Musical Echoes reflects twenty years of archival research and conversation between this extraordinary jazz singer and the South African musicologist Carol Ann Muller. The narrative of Benjamin's life and times is interspersed with Muller's reflections on the vocalist's story and its implications for jazz history.
Carol Ann Muller is Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Focus: Music of South Africa and South African Music: A Century of Traditions in Transformation. The South African jazz vocalist and composer Sathima Bea Benjamin is the founder of Ekapa Records and a Grammy-nominated musician who has released a dozen recordings, including Dedications, Cape Town Love, and Musical Echoes. In 2004, South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, honored her with the Order of Ikhamanga Silver Award in recognition of her musical artistry and antiapartheid activism. Benjamin lives in New York City.
List of Figures ix Preface xiii Acknowledgments xxiii A Tribute by Abdullah Ibrahim: "Sathima" xxxi Sathima: My Life's Journey as a Jazz Singer xxxiii 1. Beginnings 1 2. A Home Within 11 Call: Recollecting a Musical Past 11 Response: Entanglement in Race and Music 33 3. Cape Jazz 53 Call: Popular Music, Dance Bands, and Jazz 53 Response: Imagining Musical Lineage through Duke and Billie 95 4. Jazz Migrancy 128 Call: Musicians Abroad 128 Response: A New African Diaspora 167 5. A New York Embrace 189 Call: Coming to the City 189 Response: Women Thinking in Jazz, or the Poetics of a Musical Self 217 6. Returning Home? 242 Call: Cape Town Love / An Archeology of Popular Song 242 Response: Jazz History as Living History 260 7. Musical Echoes 271 Call: Sathima's Musical Echo 271 Response: Reflections on Echo 274 8. Outcomes-Jazz in the World 283 Notes 297 Selected References 325 Index 337