*A biopic on the late South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba is in development with the Miriam Makeba Estate, Miriam Makeba Foundation and Mama Africa Cultural & Social Trust, reports Variety.
Suzanne de Passe, who wrote the Billie Holiday film “Lady Sings the Blues,” and her long time business partner, Madison Jones of de Passe Jones Entertainment, are producing the untitled movie, which will follow the singer’s emergence as one of the key voices against apartheid.
Makeba was South Africa’s first Grammy winner and a Top 10 artist, recording and performing songs in English, Portuguese, Hebrew and Swahili. She has worked worked with Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Pass, Nina Simone, Odetta, Hugh Masekela and Paul Simon.
Her South African citizenship was revoked in 1963. She was part of Simon’s Graceland tour and performed in the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute in 1988. Mandela was freed from prison in 1990 and persuaded Makeba to return to South Africa later that year.
She passed away in 2008 at the age of 76.
Also producing the biopic are Broadway producer Willette Klausner; music producer David Franco; and journalist Marc Le Chat, Makeba’s long-time publicist.
Le Chat first met Makeba after attending and covering her performance with Simon on his “Graceland” concert in Zimbabwe in the late 1980s. After her return to the country in 1990, he became her publicist and confidant for the next 15 years.