Music galore marked the passing early in 2018 of two South African titans of culture, poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile and trumpeter Hugh Masekela. Notable at their memorial events were powerfully moving tributes by veterans Caiphus Semenya and Jonas Gwangwa. They shared stages and the perils of exile with both. Semenya and Gwangwa’s histories raise a persistent question. Why, given the scale of their achievements, are they not more famous? The answer may be rooted in the prominence of live performance over composition: everyone remembers the man or woman on stage. Fewer inquire about who wrote — let alone arranged — the song. Jonas Mosa Gwangwa, 80, can command warmth singing or playing trombone on stage, and his music has won him friends and fans around the world. The South African government acknowledged his role in, as they termed it, "singing down apartheid", with the Order of Ikhamanga (Gold) in 2010. But even the citation for that award omitted much about the scope of his ...

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