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Miriam Makeba remains the most important female vocalist to emerge out of South Africa. Hailed as The Empress Of African Song and Mama Africa.

Miriam Makeba helped bring African music to a global audience in the 1960s. Nearly five decades after her debut with the Manhattan Brothers, she continues to play an important role in the growth of African music.

Gifted with a dynamic vocal tone, Makeba first came to the public's attention as a featured vocalist with the Manhattan Brothers in 1954. She soon left to record with her all-woman group the Skylarks while touring Southern Africa with Alf Herberts' African Jazz and Variety, a tour that launched the careers of many African artists. In 1959, Makeba's incredible voice won her the role of the female lead in King Kong, a Broadway-inspired South African musical. She then went on to conquer America where she sang at President Kennedy's birthday and performed with artists such as Harry Belafonte ."Pata Pata," her signature tune became a major hit in the U.S. in 1967.

Makeba's successes as a vocalist were also balanced by her outspoken views about apartheid. In 1960, the government of South Africa revoked her citizenship. For the next thirty years, she was forced to be a 'citizen of the world.' Makeba received the Dag Hammerskjold Peace Prize in 1968. After marrying radical Black activist Stokely Carmichael, many of her concerts were cancelled, and her recording contract with RCA was dropped, resulting in even more problems for the artist.

She eventually relocated to Guinea and served as Guinea's delegate to the United Nations. In 1964 and 1975, she addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on the horrors of apartheid.

Makeba remained active as a musician over the years. Makeba joined Paul Simon and South Africa 's Ladysmith Black Mambazo during their world-wide Graceland tour in 1987 and 1988. Two years later, she joined Odetta and Nina Simone for the One Nation tour.
Makeba returned to South Africa in December 1990. She performed her first concert in her homeland in thirty years in April 1991. She appeared in South African award-winning musical, Sarafina, and later, toured with her first husband, trumpeter Hugh Masekela. In 1995, Makeba formed an organization to raise funds to help protect the women of South Africa. The same year, she performed at the Vatican's Nevi Hall during a world-wide broadcasted show, Christmas In The Vatican. Makeba's first studio album in a decade, Homeland, was released in 2000.