Music, infused with sorrow and joy, in honor of migrants to South Africa

by Celia W. Dugger

Hugh Masekela, 70, performing his “Songs of Migration,” a revival of, and tribute to, the music made by migrants who moved to Johannesburg to dig for gold in the early and middle years of the last century. Mr. Masekela is still haunted by the music that was everywhere during his childhood — wafting into his home as a musical group rehearsed nearby, rising in churches and school halls, and echoing across townships. When he returned to South Africa in 1990 after 30 years in exile, he said, “It wasn’t there anymore.”  Hear a song “Coal Train.”

JOHANNESBURG — Hugh Masekela, the legendary trumpeter, blew his horn, sang with bluesy fervor and boogied across the stage on his puffy, 70-year old knees in his “Songs of Migration,” a revival of the music made by those who came from all over southern Africa to dig for gold and search for work here in the continent’s great boom town.