Supporting the Legendary Hugh Masekela

I’m still tripping that this tour has been offered to me…

I’m touring as a support to Legends South African Jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela and Pianist, Larry Willis.

November 5th was the first date of this tour and meeting Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis was one of the coolest experiences with musicians I’ve had. Watching Hugh do Tai Chi; him, Larry and their tour manager cracking jokes over take away food back stage, hearing Larry and Hugh together warming up – magical. Piano keys sang around the dancing smooth horn lines distinct to Hugh’s sound. Both in their seventies and celebrating 50 years! of working together, this duo breathe each others spontaneous creativity. Definitely a landmark experience in my artist’s career (along with performing with Baaba Maal).

Big Thanks to David Jones at Serious, The PRS Foundation “Women Make Music” award and to Jon Speedy for being my partner in crime for this project.

Click for tour dates on Serious’s Website: Hugh Masekela and Larry Wills + Zena Edwards

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The Laugh – Zena on Def Poetry

Found this by chance. I thought I’d lost this piece of footage as Def Poetry had taken it down…

In 2002, I got a phone call from my then  poetry agent, 57 Productions, that they’d got a call from Def Poetry. I was so fresh into my working career as a poet that I didn’t feel ready for such a big show – I mean, I was going to New York to stand on that renowned stage where the likes of the Last Poets, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Sundiata Sekou, Jill Scott and Smokey Robinson had performed!
I’d never had TV make -up before and it was caked on. (I get it now). Plus the hustle and bustle back stage was a madness – poets reciting their lines loudly, painting shapes in the air, gesticulating  with that american gusto that scared a lil UK poet who was just feeling her feet in the  spoken word world. It was intimidating to say the least. But what poet from the African diaspora would turn down such a great opportunity. This mainstream outlet was, still is, the home of contemporary  of Black Poetry. Another landmark experience….

I performed a poem called The Laugh. It has had many incarnations since and has become a bit of an anthem.  This was it at its most fetal. I think I held my own…. 🙂
Plus it was kinda cool to have host Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) say, “Yeeeeeah, you was throwin’ it doooown…”.  “Thanks.” I squeaked. Nice moment.