Sathima Bea Benjamin: 1936-2013

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Jazz artist Sathima Bea Benjamin's contribution to jazz was immense and her death was a sudden and sad day for music, say her family and friends.

Benjamin, 76, died in her Claremont flat on Monday.

The songstress was the former wife of jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim and the mother of musician Tsakwe Ibrahim and internationally renowned rapper Jean Grae.

Benjamin’s sister Edith Benjamin said her death was unexpected and she was alone at home when she died.

“When we went to visit her at her flat in Claremont we found she had passed away. We’re all devastated,” she said.

“Sathima was a very warm, loving and giving person. She was one of nine children. She would give her last to help someone else,” Benjamin said.

She said that while Benjamin was living in New York her flat was “like an embassy”.

“Many South Africans who came there during the Struggle would congregate there and have meetings in her apartment.”

Benjamin recently relaunched her album African Songbird, which was originally launched in New York in 1977. She had three shows in Cape Town last month as part of the relaunch.

“She was all emotion and feeling. A beautiful soul who touched so many,” said Matt Temple, director of Matsuli Music, which worked on the relaunch.

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