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The South African Singer Who Fled Apartheid To Perform With Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson

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Image credit: WDET

Letta Mbulu fled the Apartheid in 1965 to move to New York and became a collaborator with Quincy Jones and many others.

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This week my picks are "What is Wrong With Groovin" by Letta Mbulu, and many others songs. All picks are featured on the Sam’s Jam’s Spotify playlist (updated weekly).WDET
WDET

This week my picks are “What is Wrong With Groovin” by Letta Mbulu, and many others songs. All picks are featured on the Sam’s Jam’s Spotify playlist (updated weekly).

Artist: Letta Mbulu 

Song: “What is Wrong With Groovin’?”

Letta Mbulu was born and raised in Soweto, South Africa in 1942. She sang in musicals and a few recordings, but fled for the United States in 1965 due to Apartheid.

While in New York City she connected with other South African musicians including Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa, and went on to work with Cannonball Adderley, David Axelrod and Harry Belafonte.

Her voice can also be heard on film productions like the TV series “Roots” and “The Color Purple.” Mbulu also performed the Swahili chant in Michael Jackson’s single, “Liberian Girl”. Producer Quincy Jones has said of her: “Mbulu is the roots lady, projecting a sophistication and warmth which stirs hope for attaining pure love, beauty, and unity in the world.”

Mbulu is the roots lady, projecting a sophistication and warmth which stirs hope for attaining pure love, beauty and unity in the world.” - Quincy Jones, producer


Sam’s Jams is the weekly song selection of WDET’s creative producer Sam Beaubien, a longtime Detroit musician who also helms the soul-funk band Will Sessions.

From 70 years ago to contemporary releases today, Sam’s Jams is the musical equivalent of digging for hours in dusty record store bins to find forgotten-but-should-be-remembered deep cuts pulled from the genres of funk, jazz and soul genres.


Sam Beaubien, Creative Producer

Sam Beaubien is a musician, composer, producer, and educator in Detroit. He is also the founder and leader of the acclaimed ensemble, Will Sessions.

sbeaubien@wdet.org

This post is a part of Sam's Jams.

Each week, WDET creative producer and longtime Detroit musician, Sam Beaubien, digs through the archives to bring you a song you might not have heard before, but are sure to love! Catch it live Monday and Thursday on CultureShift.

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