“Click Song #1”: African Pop Goes International

Is it really true what Wikipedia says about Miriam Makeba – that she’s the “first artist from Africa to popularize African music around the world”?   Given that Makeba released her first U.S. album in 1960, one can only conclude that African pop, essentially, had no American distribution links until “the Year of Africa” (as 1960 is also known, due to significant events — “particularly the independence of seventeen African nations — that focused global attention on the continent and intensified feelings of Pan-Africanism” (Wiki).

Makeba would record “Click Song” on 1960 RCA album, Miriam Makeba, while former husband, Hugh Masekela, would likewise record the song on his first US release, 1962’s Trumpet Africaine on Mercury.  Makeba would also record “Click Song” while briefly under contract to Mercury in 1966 and then revisit the song on 1967’s Pata Pata, her first of several albums for Reprise:

South African-born Makeba sings this song in Xhosa, the famously percussive tongue that her father spoke.  Seven years later, Makeba would perform this song at the Zaire ’74 three-day music festival that accompanied the epic boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman for the heavyweight championship crown.

            1968 single released in spain            1972 single released in the netherlands

Miriam Makeba 45 picture sleeve IIaMiriam Makeba 45 picture sleeve Ia

1968 Netherlands 45

Miriam Makeba 45 picture sleeve IIIa“Click Song” also saw release on 1965 LP, Jimmy Come Lately, by Four Jacks and a Jill, South African folk-popsters who would later hit the American Top 20 on March 30, 1968 with their abstrusely catchy single, “Master Jack” [but wait – in an oddly curious twist:  RCA, in 1969, would release a 45 solely for the New Zealand market with hit single, “Master Jack” as the B-side and “Click Song” as the A-side].

Cher Speaks Xhosa

Would you be stunned to learn that Cher would record her own version of “Click Song #1” for 1968’s Backstage, her last album for Liberty?  Also released as the A-side of a 45.

Cher 45