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Google doodles South Africa's Miriam Makeba on her 81st birthday

March 04, 2013|By Reed Johnson
  • South African singer Miriam Makeba, known as "Mama Africa," performs at West Angeles Church in 2005.
South African singer Miriam Makeba, known as "Mama Africa,"… (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles…)

Some female singers puff themselves up with bogus titles like Lady Such-and-Such or the Queen of Pop.

But unlike those pale pretenders to the crown, Miriam Makeba, the great South African artist who passed away in 2008 at age 76, actually earned her imposing nickname: "Mama Africa."

Google must've thought so, too: the Internet company is honoring her today with a doodle on its homepage. The stylized image shows Makeba in profile, in her prime, resplendent in traditional South African dress, singing against an abstract background tapestry of muted tans and reds.

PHOTOS: Google Doodles of 2013

Here's how the Times' obituary described Makeba's continent-sized talent:

"Makeba captivated audiences with a voice perfectly suited to the polyrhythmic chant-songs of African music, combining the clarity of a Joan Baez with the throaty authority of a Sarah Vaughan. Her fame in the U.S. peaked with the 1967 release of the single “Pata Pata,” an upbeat dance tune that remained her best-known number to the end of her life. The song became the first top-20 U.S. single by an African artist."

"By then she had already won international fame with a novelty number known familiarly as “The Click Song,” for the way it incorporated the distinctive "click" sound of her native Xhosa tongue."

So click on Google sometime today.

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