South African singer MIRIAM MAKEBA has died after suffering a heart attack at a concert. She was 76.
The star was admitted to hospital in Italy after falling ill a charity gig on Sunday (09Nov08) and she passed away shortly afterwards, reports the Ansa news agency.
Makeba had performed a half-hour set for Roberto Saviano, a writer threatened with death by the Mafia, according to Italian reports.
Born in 1932, Makeba became known as "Mama Africa" and captured international attention as a vocalist for South African group, The Manhattan Brothers, while they toured the United States in 1959.
The following year, when she wanted to return home to bury her mother, the apartheid state revoked her citizenship and later also banned her music. As a result she spent 31 years in exile, living in the United States and later in Guinea.
She became the first black African woman to receive a Grammy Award, which she shared with folk singer Harry Belafonte, in 1965.
Makeba married Trinidadian civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael in 1968 but the couple split in 1973. Her only daughter, Bongi, died in 1985 aged 36 from complications from a miscarriage.
The singer returned to South Africa in the 1990s, after Nelson Mandela was released from prison, but it took six years before she would find anyone to produce a record with her.
Her 2000 album Homeland contained a song describing her joy to be back home after her years in exile in which she spoke out against apartheid. At the time she said: "I kept my culture. I kept the music of my roots. Through my music I became this voice and image of Africa and the people without even realising."