Africa: Philip Tabane (1934-2018) – The ‘Best Guitarist In Africa’, Give Up The Ghost


The remarkable artist, Philip Tabane, has passed away and his one of a kind abilities have been stilled. In any case, his persuasions proceed.

In 1975, still just into my first periods of working in South Africa, I discovered that our office (the cultural, media and information arm of the US Embassy) likewise worked as the care staff of the Johannesburg Music Appreciation Society. Given the predominant conditions in South Africa, with scarcely any scenes open to all in the city, we had a dynamic “enrollment” of individuals for that society, extending from office cleaners to the head of (dark) staff for the nation’s biggest development organization. Notwithstanding what the evening’s project was, the room topped off. Quickly.

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Our prime task was to develop a varied programme for the monthly meetings. These included events such as afternoon workshop-demonstration-talks by visiting American jazz musicians such as Barney Kessel, playing at the country’s still-segregated nightclubs, but still before the cultural boycott began to take hold. Then there were our home-grown efforts such as our talk, with the recorded music, on the Kurt Weill-Maxwell Anderson musical, Lost in the Stars, that had been made of Alan Paton’s novel, Cry the Beloved…


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