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Ladysmith Black Mambazo
The music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a combination of traditional South African music and Christian Gospel. The group has been around for about 40 years, and during that time they have brought people of all faiths and backgrounds together through the magic of A Cappella music.
Joseph Shabalala, who is currently the leader of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, started the group in the 1960s near Durban, South Africa. The original intentions behind the group were to bring the “gospel of loving one another all over the world” and the group has been able to do just that. Their music is upbeat, in sync, and completely beautiful. If only for the enjoyment it brings, the group has made a difference on whoever has had the opportunity to listen to them.
The group was not so wonderful when they first began, though. When it was first started, the group was titled Ezimnyama, and did not receive much notice outside of Ladysmith (the town Shabalala lived in). In 1964, Shabalala had a series of dreams of a group performing in harmony. This provoked him to find new members for Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Once happy with the sound, Shabalala began to enter the group in contests in Durban and Johannesburg. They won nearly all of them.
In the 1980s, Paul Simon incorporated some of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s harmonies into his album Graceland. Simon then produced Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s first U.S. album, titled Shaka Zulu, which was released in 1988. The album won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. Since then, the group has received 15 Grammy nominations.
The group has kept a strong and wonderful presence in the A Cappella world. When Shabalala was asked when he would retire, and what the future of the group looked like, he said that his four sons were now in the group. They were the future of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and the group must continue to spread “the message of peace, love, and harmony.” Earlier this year, the group released an album with collaborations with many prominent artists from all over the world. They are still touring around the world. The group has been around for 40 years, and it looks like they will be around for a while still!