South African trumpeter and singer, Hugh Masekela, a leading figure in the struggle to end apartheid and popularly known as "the father of South African jazz" died on Tuesday. He was 78. 

The news of his demise was confirmed by his family on his official Twitter account. 

They said Masekela died peacefully in Johannesburg, surrounded by his family, after a long battle with prostate cancer. "A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with profound loss," it read. 

Hugh Masekela In this photo, Hugh Masekela performs in a concert on April 4, 2014, in New York. Photo: Getty Images / Dave Kotinsky

Born on April 4, 1939, in Kwa-Guqa Township, Witbank, South Africa, Masekela was best known for his jazz compositions and for writing well-known anti-apartheid songs such as "Soweto Blues" and "Bring Him Back Home". He was first inspired to play the trumpet at age 14 after he saw Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in the 1950 film "Young Man with a Horn."

After that Masekela left South Africa in 1960 at the age of 21 and developed his own unique style under the guidance of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong. In the year 1967, Masekela performed with the likes of Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Who and Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival. Following his performance at the pop festival, Masekela’s instrumental single called "Grazing in the Grass" topped the charts in the United States and also became a worldwide hit.

After 30 years of being away from his hometown, Masekela returned home in 1990 following the release of South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist Nelson Mandela, whose freedom he had called for in his 1986 anthem "Bring Home Nelson Mandela."

Masekela performed at the opening concert and ceremony of the Fifa World Cup in Soweto's Soccer City, in 2010.

In a career spanning six decades, Masekela touched a lot of hearts. South African musician Loyiso Bala was one among many to mark his death on Twitter. 

In a statement, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed his loss of a great icon. The statement read:

"President Jacob Zuma has expressed heartfelt condolences on the sad passing of internationally acclaimed jazz artist, legendary trumpeter, cultural activist, and liberation struggle veteran Mr. Hugh Masekela, who has passed on at the age of 78. Mr. Masekela was one of the pioneers of jazz music in South Africa whose talent was recognized and honored internationally over many years. He kept the torch of freedom alive globally fighting apartheid through his music and mobilizing international support for the struggle for liberation and raising awareness of the evils of apartheid.

President Zuma bestowed the National Order of Ikhamanga in Gold in 2010 to Mr. Masekela for his exceptional contribution to music and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa."

"The nation mourns one its most recognizable signature talent in the person of Bra Hugh Masekela. It is an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large. His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten. We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and peers in the arts and culture fraternity at large. May his soul rest in peace," President Zuma said, according to the statement.