18 Facts About Abdullah Ibrahim


Abdullah Ibrahim was born on Adolph Johannes Brand on 9 October 1934 and formerly known as Dollar Brand and is a South African pianist and composer.

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Abdullah Ibrahim's music reflects many of the musical influences of his childhood in the multicultural port areas of Cape Town, ranging from traditional African songs to the gospel of the AME Church and Ragas, to more modern jazz and other Western styles.

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Abdullah Ibrahim is known especially for "Mannenberg", a jazz piece that became a notable anti-apartheid anthem.

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Abdullah Ibrahim was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on 9 October 1934, and was baptized Adolph Johannes Brand.

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Abdullah Ibrahim attended Trafalgar High School in Cape Town's District Six, and began piano lessons at the age of seven, making his professional debut at 15.

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Abdullah Ibrahim is of mixed-race heritage, making him a Coloured person according to the apartheid system.

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Abdullah Ibrahim's mother played piano in a church, the musical style of which would remain an influence; in addition, he learned to play several genres of music during his youth in Cape Town, including marabi, mbaqanga, and American jazz.

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Abdullah Ibrahim became well known in jazz circles in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

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In 1959 and 1960, Abdullah Ibrahim played with the Jazz Epistles group in Sophiatown, alongside saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, trumpeter Hugh Masekela, trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, bassist Johnny Gertze and drummer Makaya Ntshoko; in January 1960, the six musicians went into the Gallo studio and recorded the first full-length jazz LP by Black South African musicians, Jazz Epistle Verse One, with 500 copies being produced.

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In February 1963, his wife-to-be, Sathima Bea Benjamin, convinced Duke Ellington, who was in Zurich, Switzerland, on a European tour, to come to hear Abdullah Ibrahim perform as "The Dollar Brand Trio" in Zurich's "Africana Club".

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Abdullah Ibrahim in turn began to incorporate African elements into his jazz.

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Abdullah Ibrahim met Rashid Vally at the latter's Kohinoor record shop in Johannesburg in the early 1970s, and Vally produced two of Ibrahim's albums in the following years.

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Abdullah Ibrahim has written the soundtracks for a number of films, including Chocolat, and No Fear, No Die.

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Abdullah Ibrahim is the subject of the documentaries A Brother with Perfect Timing and A Struggle for Love.

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Abdullah Ibrahim has worked as a solo performer, typically in unbroken concerts that echo the unstoppable impetus of the old marabi performers, classical impressionists and snatches of his musical idols – Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Fats Waller.

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In 1997, Abdullah Ibrahim collaborated on a tour with drummer Max Roach, and the following year undertook a world tour with the Munich Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Abdullah Ibrahim continues to perform internationally, mainly in Europe, and with occasional shows in North America.

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In 2007, Abdullah Ibrahim was presented with the South African Music Lifetime Achievement Award, given by the Recording Industry of South Africa, in a ceremony at the Sun City Superbowl.

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