Abdullah Ibrahim is South Africa’s most distinguished pianist, a global jazz icon. His music inspired a generation and his most famous song, Mannenberg, became a theme song of the struggle against Apartheid.
Ibrahim was born in 1934 in Cape Town and baptized Adolph Johannes Brand. His early musical memories were of traditional African Khoi-san songs and the Christian hymns, gospel tunes and spirituals that he heard from his grandmother, who was pianist for the local African Methodist Episcopalian church, and his mother, who led the choir. The Cape Town of his childhood was a melting-pot of cultural influences, and the young Dollar Brand, as he became known, was exposed to American jazz, township jive, CapeMalay music, as well as to classical music. Out of this blend of the secular and the religious, the traditional and the modern, developed the distinctive style, harmonies and musical vocabulary that are inimitably his own.
After the notorious Sharpeville massacre of 1960, mixed-race bands and audiences were defying the increasingly strict apartheid laws, and jazz symbolized resistance, so the government closed a number of clubs and harassed the musicians. Ibrahim himself lived mostly in exile from the early 60’s, in New York and Europe, and is one of very few surviving artists of that era who continues to have a vibrant recording and performing career, well into his eighties.
For more than a quarter-century he has toured the world extensively, appearing at major concert halls, clubs and festivals, giving sell-out performances, as solo artist or with other renowned artists (notably, Max Roach, Carlos Ward and Randy Weston).
When not touring, he now divides his time between Cape Town and New York. In addition to composing and performing, he has started a South African production company, Masingita (Miracle), and established a music academy, M7, offering courses in seven disciplines to educate young minds and bodies. A martial arts Black Belt with a lifelong interest in zen philosophy, Ibrahim takes every opportunity to visit his master in private trips to Japan.
SAVE THE DATE: Abdullah Ibrahim is visiting our city for a unique concert at Philharmonie Berlin, on Tuesday 19 November.
Deep gratitude to Berlin Kozerte, for making this evening possible.