'Hotstix' Inspired By Liberation Music Of Youth

For Tell Me More's occasional series "In Your Ear," guests of the program talk about songs that have particular meaning for them. South African musician Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse went back to school at the age of 60. He shares the songs that have inspired him over the years.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now, it's time for the regular feature we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask some of our guests to share their personal playlist with us. Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse musical career bought him success and celebrity in South Africa. But having left school at 16, he always felt something was missing. He recently spoke to us about going back to finish high school at the age of 60. And now he shares some of the music that inspired him to do it.

SIPHO HOTSTIX MABUSE: Hi, I'm Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse. I'm a musician from South Africa.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YESTERDAY")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.

MABUSE: I'm listening to The Beatles at the moment. Surprisingly, the song called "Yesterday" was one of the songs that inspired me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YESTERDAY")

BEATLES: (Singing) Oh, I believe in yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THEY WON'T GO WHEN I GO")

MABUSE: Stevie Wonder wrote a fantastic song at some stage. I was very young and the song is known as "They Won't Go When I Go."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THEY WON'T GO WHEN I GO")

STEVIE WONDER: No more lying friends wanting tragic ends. Though they do pretend, they won't go when I go.

MABUSE: Wow. I've always been a Stevie fan and a lot of people have never really heard some of Stevie's greatest songs. He just plays piano very gospely spiritual songs but the lyrical Stevie is probably one of the most inspiring writers of our time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THEY WON'T GO WHEN I GO")

WONDER: (Singing) They won't go when I go. And I'll go where I've longed to go so long away from tears.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIKO")

PETER GABRIEL: (Singing) Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja.

MABUSE: Peter Gabriel wrote a blockbuster called "Biko."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIKO")

GABRIEL: (Singing) September '77, Port Elizabeth weather fine. It was business as usual in police room 619. Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko.

MABUSE: He seemed to understand the political dynamics of South Africa, and how Steve Biko had an influence within a particular generation. And, of course, his death was just catalyst in inspiring and motivating us to continue with the struggle.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIKO")

GABRIEL: (Singing) You can blow out a candle, but you can't blow out a fire. Once the flames begin to catch, the wind will blow it higher. Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOWETO BLUES")

MABUSE: And, of course, the high priestess of South African music, Miriam Makeba came with a song called "Soweto Blues."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOWETO BLUES")

MIRIAM MAKEBA: (Singing) The children got a letter from the master. It said no more Xhosa Sotho, no more Zulu.

MABUSE: "Soweto Blues" is a song that reminds me of the time when the children woke up to the master, said no more Xhosa Zulu or Afrikaans. Refusing to comply with the master, that's when the policemen came to the rescue. Bullets were flying. Children were dying and the mothers were crying. Those are the lyrics of a period in 1976. That's why I chose "Soweto Blues." And that coincides with, of course, the fact that I've gone back to school.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOWETO BLUES")

MAKEBA: (Singing) Ngezimbokodo mabedubula abantwana. Soweto blues.

MARTIN: That was South African musician Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our previous conversation with him, go to npr.org and look for the Program tab and TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more on tomorrow from Miami.

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