- Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016
- LOS ANGELES
The life story of Miriam Makeba, who was among the most important voices in South Africa’s transformation from the oppression of apartheid to the democratic presidency of Nelson Mandela, is being brought to the screen by a team of film, television, music and Broadway producers, who are working in collaboration with the Miriam Makeba Estate, Miriam Makeba Foundation and Mama Africa Cultural & Social Trust.
They are led by Golden Globe® award-winning, Oscar®-nominated, and multiple Emmy® award-winning producer, Suzanne de Passe (Lady Sings the Blues), and her long time business partner, Madison Jones of de Passe Jones Entertainment. Joining them are Broadway producer Willette Klausner (The Trip to Bountiful revival); music producer David Franco (Ted Turner’s Gettysburg soundtrack); and journalist Marc Le Chat, Makeba’s former long-time publicist and confidant.
Africa’s first Grammy® winner and a Top 10 Billboard artist, Makeba recorded and performed songs in English, Portuguese, Hebrew and Swahili, and worked with music greats, including Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Nina Simone, Odetta, Hugh Masekela and Paul Simon.
Willette Klausner is also producer of the long running audience favorite Three Mo’ Tenors and of two critically acclaimed Broadway plays, The Encounter currently on Broadway with Simon McBurney, and Eclipsed, which starred Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o and was written by The Walking Deads Danai Gurira.
Franco is a former A&R executive of Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Records International Division. He has worked on over 150 film/TV projects, including the Oscar and Golden Globes nominated film Into The Wild directed by Sean Penn, featuring songs by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
Le Chat first met Makeba after attending and covering her performance with Paul Simon on his Graceland concert in Zimbabwe in the late 80s. With apartheid still in effect, the show could not perform in South Africa. After her return to the country in 1990, he became her publicist and confidant for the next 15 years. Makeba died in 2008 at the age of 76.