Elinam Cofie was the longtime wife of legendary South African jazz trumpeter, Hugh Masekela –best known as the ‘father of South African jazz.”
Elinam’s famous hubby sadly passed away “after a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer” a statement from the family said. Hugh Masekela was 78.
Hugh certainly leaves behind a great legacy, born Hugh Ramopolo Masekela on April 4, 1939 –he learned the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in the 1950 film Young Man with a Horn.
In 1960, aged 21, he left South Africa to begin what would be 30 years in exile from his home country. Masekela gained global recognition with his distinctive Afro-Jazz sound and hits such as Soweto Blues.
In 1968, after having performed with the likes of Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Who and Jimi Hendrix –his instrumental single Grazing in the Grass topped the charts in the US and became a worldwide hit. He also became well known for his jazz compositions and for writing well-known anti-apartheid songs.
His career spanned for five decades –in which time he released over 40 albums and received numerous honors including two Grammys and two honorary doctorates from Rhodes University and the University of York.
He leaves behind two adult children and wife, Elinam Cofie.
Hugh Masekela was previously married to South African singer and civil right activist, Miriam Makeba. They were married in 1964 and were divorced two years later in 1966.
He was also in a relationship with Haitian Jessie Marie Lapierre –with whom he fathered daughter, Pula Twala, and his son, Selema “Sal” Masekela –a TV host and musician.
Hugh then walked the isle for a second time to marry Elinam Cofie in 1999. It is said he wrote and sang the song “Ghana” for Cofie.
According to a 2011 article from the San Francisco Classical Voice, the couple met on a voyage, two decades prior to their marriage. Elinam Cofie is a native of Ghana. In 2013 reports surfaced of the couple calling it quits to their marriage. At the time it was said Cofie complained she spent too much time alone at the couple’s Johannesburg home –while her husband spent most of his time touring in the U.S.
We send our condolences.
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