The last album of Miriam Makeba’s music, released only days before her death earlier this month, is seeing unprecedented sales for the independent local label which released it. The compilation Miriam Makeba: The Legend put together by African Cream Music, has sold over five thousand copies locally in the last two weeks said sales director Gary Skirrow.
Part-time sales assistant at Musica Mega-store Lucille Julius at the V&A Waterfront said a lot of tourists were coming to the store “specifically asking” for the album.
Julius said 78 of there 150 copies had already been sold, which was an unusually high number of one album to be sold in such a short time.
The compilation, which took almost a year for African Cream Music to put together and spans almost her whole career, was eerily released only the week before she died of a heart attack in Italy on November 10.
It’s not the only album of the much-loved songstress from Jozi which is doing well though, “thousands” of back catalogue albums are being ordered by retail outlets said Gallo South Africa Marketing Manager Tsholo Moraba.
Moraba said since her death, Makeba was the second most played Gallo artist on South African radio stations and interest in her work had soared.
He said Gallo had about 12 of her albums in their catalogue and although there had been renewed interest in almost all her titles, her older albums were doing particularly well.
Although he could not provide figures at this stage, he said the spike in sales was “significant”.
The 1957 Welela album, as well as the DVD of her 1966 Live at Bern’s Salonger in Stockholm, Sweden, were moving fast.
It was just a pity, he said, that people “buy our music from our icons” after their death.
“We had the same thing with Lucky Dube.”
He said Gallo did have “something in the pipeline”, a double disk CD and DVD summing up “the best of the best of the best” work in Makeba’s career.
And it could be in stores by “early December”.
Makeba’s business manager Graham Gilfillan indicated he was not aware of increased sales as he had been very busy dealing with other matters following the star’s death.
African Cream Music CEO Alex Agulnik said the only shame was that “Mama Africa” was “not here” to see how people were enjoying her music.
“But there is a kind of beauty to the way she left us. Not many people know how much she loved Italy, and for a true artist there’s no better way to go out than to have performed her most famous song, Pata Pata, in a country she loved so much.”
* Reporting by Caitlin Ross and Steve Kretzmann. Published in City Press, 23 November 2008.