Manhattan School of Music, The ELMA Music Foundation,
and the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation


Two 2020–21 Recipients of the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship

Through this partnership, Manhattan School of Music provides full scholarships to six South African music students enabling them to pursue Bachelor of Music degrees at MSM, Hugh Masekela’s alma mater.

November 2, 2020 (NEW YORK, NY) – Manhattan School of Music (MSM) and the ELMA Music Foundation, in partnership with the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation, have announced two new “Masekela Scholars” for the 2020–21 academic year at MSM. The two South African students – recipients of the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship, which allows six South African students full scholarships to pursue Bachelor of Music degrees at MSM – have begun their freshman studies at MSM, having officially joined the School’s Class of 2024 in September.

The newly announced Masekela Scholars are: Zoe Molelekwa (Jazz Arts, piano) and Kabelo Mokhatla (Jazz Arts, drums). They join the two inaugural recipients of the scholarship – Zeke Le Grange (Jazz Arts, tenor saxophone) and Nhlanhla Mahlangu (Jazz Arts, alto saxophone) – who began their studies at MSM in fall 2019. Two additional scholarship recipients are still to be announced; applicants are encouraged to apply (details below).

On April 4, 2019, on the occasion of what would have been Hugh Masekela’s 80th birthday, MSM, The ELMA Music Foundation, and Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation announced the establishment of the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at MSM in honor of the legendary South African musician, activist, and life-long advocate and embodiment of African identity, heritage, and expression. The announcement came at a Jazz Foundation of America gala in New York honoring Mr. Masekela’s life and legacy. Mr. Masekela, who died on January 23, 2018, studied classical trumpet at MSM, one of the world’s leading conservatories, in the early 1960s.

A principal goal of this endeavor is to ensure that the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship be awarded to South African students who have faced significant social, educational, cultural, or economic challenges, and who have a demonstrated interest in the advancement of music consistent with Mr. Masekela’s legacy and vision.

“We are enormously grateful for this scholarship grant and continue to be deeply honored to work with the ELMA Music Foundation and the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation to provide an educational and musical home to six South African students whose presence at the School stands as a testament to Hugh Masekela’s vision and talent,” said MSM President James Gandre. “He is one of MSM’s most distinguished alumni, and this is an apt extension of both his musical legacy and the important work that he did during his lifetime on social justice initiatives benefiting South Africans. This year’s Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholars have found a musical home at MSM for the next four years and have joined a vibrant community of aspiring young musicians who come to the School from 44 countries around the world.”

“This scholarship not only honors the great artist’s legacy but also nurtures the next generation of South African musicians and upholds his vision to preserve and promote African heritage, culture, and identity,” said Tarik Ward, Director, Music Programs, The ELMA Philanthropies. “We are especially thrilled to honor the legacy and work of this renowned musician and freedom fighter by extending our congratulations to the three newest Masekela Scholars at MSM.”

“We are grateful to be entering into the second year of this exciting musical scholarship with the ELMA Music Foundation and Manhattan School of Music,” said Professor Louis Molamu, Chairperson of the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation. “Not only is it a wonderful opportunity for the musicians and students who are benefitting from the scholarship and all the opportunities it affords, but it is a fitting tribute to Hugh Masekela, to his extensive, voracious, and prodigious musical appetites and his passion for inter-generational creative collaboration.”

Those musical appetites and passions were celebrated at Manhattan School of Music in November and December of last year as the MSM Jazz Orchestra, featuring inaugural Masekela Scholars Zeke Le Grange and Nhlanhla Mahlangu, performed a special concert saluting Mr. Masekela at the School’s Neidorff-Karpati Hall and, subsequently, at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Applicants interested in being considered for the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship are able to start their application to the MSM College on the School’s website. Applicants to undergraduate programs who are current residents and citizens of South Africa will be prompted to complete an additional essay in order to apply for the scholarship. All applicants who complete the essay will have their application fee waived. Questions should be directed to the MSM Office of Admissions at

In addition, anyone interested in applying is welcome to attend MSM’s upcoming Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship Info Session on November 5, 2020, at 1:00 pm EDT. Registration for this and many other Zoom sessions for interested applicants are available on the MSM website here.

“I have an ambition of opening a school of music in Mpumalanga, which is where I come from. After graduation, this scholarship will give me credibility to afford a vast number of students the opportunity to learn this beautiful art form with access to resources and instruments. This is what the scholarship means to me and my community.”
Nhlanhla Mahlangu (Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship recipient, 2019)

For more information, please contact:

Susan Madden

Vice President for Advancement, Manhattan School of Music

(917) 493-4115 | 

Jeff Breithaupt

Vice President for Media and Communications, Manhattan School of Music

917.493.4702 |