Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 17 Oct. '36, raised in Cape Town SA) Singer with a warm creamy voice; infl. by Duke Ellington, she sings mostly standard repertoire, but also writes and usually incl. some originals on recordings. Met her husband-to-be Abdullah Ibrahim (then called Dollar Brand) at a talent show '59; moved to Zurich '62, met her idol Ellington there '63 and three days later recorded with him and Billy Strayhorn for Reprise (not yet released). She and Ibrahim married in London '65; Ellington asked her to perform with him at Newport that year. Back in South Africa with two children, they moved to NYC after the Soweto riots '77, and started Ekapa Records '79 for their own recordings; she began managing her husband's career. Her own first album was African Songbird '76 on Sun Records, followed by Sathima Sings Ellington '79, Dedications '82 and Memories And Dreams '83, all on Ekapa; Windsong '85 also appeared on BlackHawk. Love Light '87 on Enja is one of her best, incl. 'Winnie Mandela -- Beloved Heroine', an accolade for Nelson's then- wife, before the worst stories about her became public knowledge; sidemen incl. Ricky Ford, Larry Willis, Buster Williams and Billy Higgins. Southern Touch '89 on Enja incl. Kenny Barron, Williams and Higgins. Color Me Blue on Enja will be next.