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Miriam Makeba: Homeland

One of South Africa’s veteran musical heroines, popular long before world music got its own section of music stores, Miriam Makeba comes home with a warming passion on Homeland (Putumayo 164; 42:20). The homecoming theme relates to the music, as well, with a new version of her 1967 hit “Pata Pata,” now dubbed “Pata Pata 2000.”

This is Makeba’s first studio recording in six years, and there’s something warm and celebratory about the whole affair. The production, by Cedric Samson and Lokua Kanza, is clean and lively, wrapping her mature, exultant voice in textures that veer from South African jive to R&B notions to touches of techno without blinking. Sometimes the pendulum swings too far towards easy commerciality. But there is an operative universal musical vocabulary at work here, so even when Makeba sings the refrain to “Africa Is Where My Heart Lies,” to a canned soul backbeat, we believe her.

Originally Published