A major new contribution to the study of African music, Soweto Blues tells the remarkable story of how jazz became a key part of South Africa's struggle in the 20th century, and provides a fascinating overview of the ongoing links between African and American styles of music. Ansell illustrates how jazz occupies an unique place in South African music. Through interviews with hundreds of musicians, she pieces together a vibrant narrative history, bringing to life the early politics of resistance, the atmosphere of illegal performance spaces, the global anti-apartheid influence of Hugh Masakela and Miriam Makeba, as well as the post-apartheid upheavals in the national broadcasting and recording industries. Featuring an introduction by Abdullah Ibrahim, Soweto Blues is a fitting tribute to the power of music to inspire optimism and self-expression in the darkest of times.
Gwen Ansell is Director of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in South Africa. She wrote and produced Ubuyile: Jazz Coming Home, an 8-part radio broadcast in South Africa in 2001.