Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
A capella group
"Humanity's first instrument was the human voice." This is the basic philosophy behind much of postmodern experimental performance. It is also the truth behind the music that a Zulu choir brought out of South Africa into recording and concert prominence in the United States. The ten members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo were the best-selling group in the Union of South Africa. After their participation in Paul Simon's 1986 Graceland album and tour, they became popular recording artists in the United States and worldwide.
The group, led by Joseph Shabalala, present a Zulu harmonic and variation style known as mbube. Stefan Grossman, distributor of the group's albums on Shanachie Records and a major influence on the rise of knowledgeable audiences for African music in America, described their style as "a timeless beauty that transcends culture, language and all other artificial barriers dividing humanity." American audiences, attracted by the beat and the shifting harmonies, have purchased Ladysmith Black Mambazo's own four albums, Induku Zethu, Umthombo Wamanzi, Ulwande Olungwele, and Inala, in greater and greater numbers.
The group began in 1964, when Joseph Shabalala dreamed of pure vocal harmonies in the style known as isicathamiya, originated by black workers in the South African mines. Impoverished and far from their families, they entertained themselves after six-day work weeks by singing. When they returned to their homes, they brought this music with them, and the fierce vocal and musical competitions among groups became a much-loved feature of local life. When Shabalala returned to his home town of Ladysmith after working in a factory in Durban, he founded his own singing group. In 1964, after hearing the music in his dream, he taught it to the members of his group, and after they incorporated it, they won almost every singing competition they entered. He named his group Ladysmith Black Mambazo after his hometown; "black" is a reference to a black ox, considered to be the strongest kind; and "mambazo" means "axe" symbolizing the group's skill in "chopping down" their musical competitors. They were so good at winning, in fact, that they were eventually banned from competing, but they were welcome to perform at any competition.
In 1970 they won their first record contract after a radio performance. In 1975, Shabalala converted to Christianity, and the group released their first Christian album, Ukukhanya Kwelanga. After this, the group's music was based largely on Methodist hymns, and their 1976 album, Ukusindiswa, became a popular religious album in South Africa. The group first traveled outside South Africa in 1981, when the government of South Africa allowed them to go to Germany to perform.
However, it was not until the release of the Graceland album in 1986, with its subsequent tour and television special, that most North Americans got to know Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Paul Simon heard the group when he was considering which of many African musical ensembles to include in his 1986 album (which was recorded in London). He selected the group, along with Tao Ea Matsekha, the Boyoyo Boys and others, as examples of the "mbaqanga" sound (roughly translatable as "township jive"). The sound had political connotations within Africa and, as Simon recognized, the music had an attractive beat with international appeal. The group's cuts on the Graceland album, "Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes" and "Homeless" (by Simon and Shabalala), were tremendously successful, as were Ladysmith's promotional performances with Simon on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and their participation in the Graceland concerts.
For the Record …
Members include founding member Joseph Shabalala, the mainstay of the group; early members included his brothers Headman Shabalala and Enoch Shabalala, cousins Albert Mazibuko, Milton Mazibuko, Funokwakhe Mazibuko, Abednego Mazibuko, and Joseph Mazibuko ; and friends Matovati Msimanga and Walter Malinga. Other members have included Geophrey Mdletshe; Russel Methembu; Jabulane Mwelase; Inos Phungula; Ben Shabalala (died 2004); and Jockey Shabalala (died 2006). Current members include Joseph Shabalala, Msizi Shabalala, Russel Mthembu, Albert Mazibuko, Thulani Shabalala, Sibongiseni Shabalala, and Abednego Mazibuko.
Over thirty different men have sung with the group over the more than four decades it has been in existence; some have stayed only long enough to record an album in the studio, and others have been with the group since its inception. Very popular in South Africa, the group came to prominence in the United States after performing on the Paul Simon album Graceland, 1986; toured with Simon, 1987, and appeared on his television special; have also toured the United States independently and appeared on television series Saturday Night Live; released Raise Your Spirit Higher, 2004; released No Boundaries, 2004; released Long Walk to Freedom, 2006; have performed at numerous international occasions, including inaugurations of South African presidents and at performances for the Pope and the Queen of England; their music has been featured in many films and commercials.
Awards: Sarie Award, Best Choral Group on Disc, 1981; Grammy Award, Best Traditional Folk Recording, 1988; Drama Desk Award, Best Original Music Score, 1996; S.A.M.A. Award, Best Zulu Music Album and Best Duo or Group Award, 1998; S.A.M.A. Award, Best Zulu Music Album, 2001; S.A.M.A. Award, Best Traditional World Music Album, 2005.
Addresses: Record company—c/o Shanachie Record Corp., P.O. Box 208, Newton, NJ 07860. Agent—Triad, 10100 Santa Monica Blvd., 16th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90067.
New York critics were fervent in their praise. Commenting on the first set of Graceland performances at Radio City Music Hall in April of 1987, David Hinckley wrote in the New York Daily News that Ladysmith "won the crowd most easily with amazingly rich 10-part harmony whose elements ranged from call-and-response gospel to rhythm and blues and human beat box." Don Aquilante wrote in the New York Post that "the real show-stoppers of the evening were Ladysmith Black Mambazo…. I have no idea what [Shabalala] called out in Zulu or what the gentlemen in his band responded, but it was fantastic, joyous, heartfelt, and big." Their call-and-response mode also caught the attention of Jon Pareles, writing in the New York Times: "In a tradition of competitive singing called iscanthamiya, Zulu choruses do dance routines while they harmonize, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, led by Joseph Shabalala, has great moves."
Critical and audience acclaim was just as positive when the Graceland tour returned to New York in July for appearances at Madison Square Garden, and the group's rapport was also evident in the television special "Graceland: The African Concert," taped in Zimbabwe for Showtime Entertainment and broadcast on the cable network in May of 1987. Vince Aletti in the Village Voice described Ladysmith as "a 10-man a capella choir that fills the stage with concentrated energy [and] begins to pivot, kick and bounce in unison."
Graceland was awarded the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1986, and the album helped to bring New African popular music out of the boycott/embargo that apartheid had erected around it. In the years since, the musical forms, as represented by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, have quickly become popular for both listening and dancing, with a growing audience throughout the world.
After Graceland, Simon was producer of three of the group's records: Shaka Zulu (1987), Journey of Dreams (1988), and Two Worlds, One Heart (1990). This busy and productive time came to an end in 1991, when Shabalala's brother, Headman Shabalala, who sang bass with the group, was shot and killed by Sean Nicholas, an off-duty security guard. Nicholas was white, and Simon, who viewed the killing as racially motivated, led the court proceedings against him. Shabalala, grieving, stopped singing, but eventually his Christian beliefs helped him get through this dark time. After three members retired in 1993, he added four of his sons to the group.
South African politics played a part in the group's career in the early 1990s. The apartheid system that separated racial groups was abolished in 1991, and Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison. The group's first post-apartheid release, Liph' Iqiniso, included a song that celebrated the demise of the repressive system. In 1994, when Mandela was inaugurated as president of South Africa, the group sang at his inauguration.
Music and Television
In 1998, the group's song "Inkanyezi Nezazi" (The Star and the Wiseman) was featured in a series of television commercials for Heinz in the United Kingdom. The advertisements were so popular that the group released the song as a single, then followed it with The Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo: The Star and the Wiseman. Helped by the popularity of the commercials, the album sold a million copies in the UK alone and the single reached #2 in the British pop charts. In the United States, the group was featured in two well-known commercials for Lifesavers candy and for 7-Up.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo was also featured in film productions, including the Michael Jackson video "Moonwalker" and Spike Lee's Do It A Cappella. Their songs have appeared on soundtracks for Disney's The Lion King Part II, Eddie Murphy's Coming to America, Marlon Brando's A Dry White Season, James Earl Jones's Cry the Beloved Country, and Sean Connery's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
In 1992, the group was featured in a play about the apartheid era, The Song of Jacob Zulu, first performed by the Steppenwolf Theater Company of Chicago. The play opened on Broadway in the spring of 1993 and was nominated for six Tony Awards. The group won the Drama Desk Award for Best Original Score for the music used in the play.
Over the years, the group has performed at many prestigious events, including a performance for the Queen of England and the Royal Family at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They have also sung at two Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies; for Pope John Paul II in Rome; for South African presidential inaugurations; for the 1996 Summer Olympics; and at music award ceremonies around the world. They also represented South Africa at the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 50th anniversary as monarch of the United Kingdom.
In 2001, On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom, a documentary film about Shabalala and the group, was released. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Documentary and was also nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Cultural Documentary on American television.
In 2005 the group won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music album, for Raise Your Spirit Higher. According to the group's website, South African president Thako Mbeki said of the award, "The Grammy Award that has been so spectacularly won by the isicaphamiya group Ladysmith Black Mambazo makes us all proud to be South Africans … the people and government salute this remarkable group." In that same year, they released No Boundaries, a collaboration with the English Chamber Orchestra. This album was less well received, and many critics felt that the group's sound was tentative and watered-down in this collaboration. Jennifer Byrne summed up this assessment in Sing Out!, commenting, "The main failing with this collaboration comes down not to the fact that both [the Chamber Orchestra and Ladysmith Black Mambzo] are outside their usual perimeter, but rather that neither is allowed to be expressive in their truest and greatest sense."
Long Walk to Freedom was released in 2006 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Graceland. The album was a collection of past favorites, including two from Graceland. The album, which was nominated for a Grammy award, also included many guest performers, including Emmylou Harris, Melissa Etheridge, Sarah McLaughlin, and guitarist Taj Mahal.
As his group has achieved worldwide recognition, Joseph Shabalala has broadened his ambitions for the future, and dreams of establishing an academy for the teaching and preservation of indigenous South African music and culture. He is currently an associate professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Natal in South Africa, and has also been appointed to a teaching position at the University of California in Los Angeles. On the group's Web page, Shabalala commented on teaching, "It's just like performing. You work all day, correcting the mistakes, encouraging the young ones to be confident in their action. And if they do not succeed I always criticize myself. I am their teacher. They are willing to learn. But it is up to me to see they learn correctly." Throughout his singing and teaching, he remains aware of his original intention and the message he strives to impart; as he told an interviewer from Jet, the group's music is about "encouraging people—don't forget who you are. Love yourself. It has that message in harmony without words. It soothes the mind."
Unkanka Odla Amacembe, S.A.B.C., 1966.
Amabutho, Gallo, 1973.
Imbongi, Gallo, 1973.
Ufakazi Yibheshu, Gallo, 1973.
Umamu Lo!, Gallo, 1974.
Isitimela, Gallo, 1974.
Ukhukanya Kwelanga, Gallo, 1975.
Amaqhawe, Gallo, 1976.
Ukusindiswa Gallo, 1977.
Shintsha Sithothobala, Gallo, 1977.
Phezulu Emafini, Gallo, 1977.
Ushaka, Gallo, 1978.
Indlela Yase Zulwini, Gallo, 1978.
Ezinkulu, Gallo, 1979.
Intokozo Gallo, 1980.
Nqonqotha Mfana, Gallo, 1980.
Ulwandle Olungcwele, Gallo, 1981; Shanachie, 1987.
Cologne Zulu Festival, Gallo, 1981.
Phansi Emgodini, Gallo, 1981.
Umthombo Wamanzi, Gallo, 1982; Shanachie, 1987.
Induku Zethu, Gallo, 1983; Shanachie, 1987.
Ibhayibheli Liyindlela, Gallo, 1984.
Inkazimulo, Gallo, 1985.
Inala, Gallo, 1985: Shanachie, 1987.
Ezulwini Siyakhona, Gallo, 1985.
(With Paul Simon) Graceland, Warner Brothers, 1986.
Kuyakhanya Madoda, Gallo, 1986.
Mabahambe Abathakathi, Gallo, 1986.
Shaka Zulu, Warner Brothers, 1987.
Thandani, Gallo, 1987.
Zibuyinhlazane Gallo, 1988.
Journey of Dreams, Warner Brothers, 1988.
Isigai Zendoda, Gallo, 1990.
Two Worlds, One Heart, Gallo, 1990.
Zulu Traditional, JVC World Sounds, 1990.
Favourites, Gallo, 1992.
Classic Tracks, Shanachie, 1992.
The Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Vol. 1, Shanachie, 1992.
Liph' Iqiniso, Gallo, 1993.
Gift of the Tortoise, Gallo, 1994.
Zulu Hits Vol. 1, Gallo, 1995.
Gospel Hits Vol. 2, Gallo, 1995.
(With Shosholoza) Shosholoza, Gallo, 1995.
(With the Mahubo Nesigekle Ladies Choir) Thuthukani Ngoxolo, Gallo, 1996.
Heavenly, Gallo, 1997.
Best of—The Star and the Wiseman, Gallo, 1998.
Live at the Royal Albert Hall, Shanachie, 1999.
Lihl' Ixhibia Likagogo, Gallo, 2000.
Thandani/Umthombo Wamanzi, Gallo, 2001.
Friends in Concert, Gallo, 2002.
Wenyukela, Gallo, 2003.
Raise Your Spirit Higher, Gallo, 2004.
(With English Chamber Orchestra) No Boundaries, Gallo, 2004.
Live at Montreaux, Gallo, 2005.
Long Walk to Freedom, Gallo, 2006.
African Business, May 2005, p. 66.
Billboard, January 22, 2005, p. 32; January 21, 2006, p. 56.
Booklist, November 1, 2004, p. 499.
Jet, May 2, 2005, p. 36.
Mother Jones, March-April 2006, p. 82.
National Geographic Traveler, October, 2003, p. 126.
New York Daily News, April 27, 1987.
New York Post, April 27, 1987; July 4, 1987.
New York Times, April 27, 1987.
Sing Out!, Summer 2005, p. 134; Fall 2006, p. 134.
Sojourners, April 2004, p. 42.
Times (London), July 30, 2004, p. 30.
Vanity Fair, November 2004, p. 366.
Village Voice, May 12, 1987.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo's Official Web Site, http://www.mambazo.com/ (January 5, 2006).
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 30, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ladysmith-black-mambazo-0
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ladysmith-black-mambazo-0
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO
Formed: 1964, Durban, South Africa
Members: Jabulani Dubazana (born South Africa, 25 April 1954); Abednego Mazibuko (born Ladysmith, South Africa, 12 March 1954); Albert Mazibuko (born Ladysmith, South Africa, 16 April 1948); Geophrey Mdletshe (born South Africa, 23 January 1960); Russel Mthembu (born South Africa, 12 March 1947); Inos Phungula (born South Africa, 31 March 1945); Ben Shabalala (born Ladysmith, South Africa, 30 November 1957); Jockey Shabalala (born Lady-smith, South Africa, 4 November 1944); Joseph Shabalala (born Ladysmith, South Africa, 28 August 1940). Former member: Headman Shabalala (born Ladysmith, South Africa, 9 October 1945; died Durban, South Africa, 11 December 1991).
Best-selling album since 1990: The Star and the Wise Man (1998)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the colorful men's choral ensemble led by Joseph Shabalala, is a musical diplomatic corps representing postapartheid South Africa and the liberation of black traditions from repressive policies reaching back to the nineteenth century. Their greatest international renown resulted from their collaboration with Paul Simon, the American singer/songwriter, on the album Graceland (1985).
Ladysmith Black Mambazo were big sellers in South Africa even before Paul Simon featured them on "Homeless" and "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" on Graceland and in his subsequent tours and television appearances on shows ranging from Saturday Night Live to Sesame Street. But Ladysmith Black Mambazo were far from an overnight success. Ladysmith Black Mambazo's director, Joseph Shabalala, is the oldest son of eight children of tenant farmers living near the South African town Ladysmith. As a teenager he played guitar and sang, eventually joining the Devan Choir, an Iscathamiya ("tiptoe guys") singing group that performed the music South African migrant laborers developed in the late 1800s—"tiptoeing" for fear of being punished if their parties became too loud.
Shabalala established his own band in Durban in 1960 but in 1964 claimed to have heard new harmonies in a dream. Consequently he converted to Christianity and induced his brothers Headman and Jockey and their cousins the Mazibuko brothers into joining Ladysmith (for the name of their hometown) Black (referring to black oxen) Mambazo (axe, meaning they cut the competition).
Their first album, Amabutho (1973), was the first African LP to go gold (sales of 25,000). The ensemble steadily issued other highly successful records in Africa into the mid-1980s. But they gained worldwide renown when Simon discovered them on pirated cassette tapes, visited South Africa to find Shabalala, signed Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Warner Bros., and produced their first U.S. album, the Grammy-winning Shaka Zulu (1987). In a controversial move Simon toured with the ensemble during the global boycott of South Africa prior to apartheid's fall. Simon and Shabalala believed it better to express South Africa's black culture than to silence themselves to shame the white government.
The group's thick, warm tenor-baritone-bass harmonies answering Shamabala's leads are derived from Anglican hymns and three major sounds from Zulu singing, characterized by Shabalala as "a high keening ululation; a grunting, puffing sound that we make when we stomp our feet; and a certain way of singing melody." Shabalala also cites an affinity for the blues; his arrangements suggest African-American spirituals, too. The music bespeaks his Christian faith, including forbearance in the face of pain. When in 1991 his brother Headman was shot dead on a highway near Durban by a white South African security guard (who was convicted of manslaughter), Joseph's response was, "Keep singing."
Ladysmith Black Mambazo enjoyed the endorsement of Nelson Mandela prior to singing at his inauguration in 1994; at his request the group sang at the Oslo ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize he shared with F. W. de Klerk, former president of South Africa, in 1993. In 1996 Mandela invited Ladysmith Black Mambazo to accompany him to London to meet Queen Elizabeth.
The ensemble returned to London for a triumphant concert that was recorded and released as an album and video, Live at the Royal Albert Hall (1999). At Mandela's behest they also represented South Africa in celebrations of the Queen's fifty-year reign in 2002, singing "Hey Jude" and "All You Need Is Love" with Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, and Phil Collins.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo has performed in Rome for the pope, on Muhammad Ali's sixtieth-birthday television special, and at the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize Concert honoring Doctors Without Borders. They have recorded with Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton, among others. They are heard on Michael Jackson's Moon Walker (1988) video and on soundtracks of various films, including Disney's The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1999), Coming to America (1988), A Dry White Season (1989), and Cry, the Beloved Country (1995).
Ladysmith Black Mambazo's a capella purity translates well to the stage. The group developed the musical play The Song of Jacob Zulu (1992) with Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater Company. The Broadway production, with Ladysmith Black Mambazo members acting and singing, earned six Tony Award nominations and a Drama Desk Award for original score. The group developed another musical, Nomathemba (1995), with writer Ntozake Shange. Based on the story behind Shabalala's first Ladysmith Black Mambazo song, the play enjoyed well-received runs in Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Eric Simonson directed both plays and co-directed On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom (2000), a documentary on Ladysmith Black Mambazo that was nominated for a 2001 Academy Award and a 2002 Emmy Award.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo maintains a full concert and touring schedule despite Joseph Shabalala's academic positions as an associate professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Nepal and at UCLA in California. He also directs the Mambazo Foundation for South African Music and Culture, which was founded in 1999 "to promote fund-raising efforts to devise a proper academic syllabus to teach South African students about their indigenous culture." Few listeners in the United States would have any awareness of South Africa's indigenous male vocal culture were it not for Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Shaka Zulu (Warner Bros., 1987); Two Worlds One Heart (Warner Bros., 1991); Liph' Iqiniso (Shanachie, 1994); Gift of the Tortoise (Warner Bros., 1994); Thuthukani Ngoxolo (Shanachie, 1996); Heavenly (Shanachie, 1997); Star & the Wise Man (Shanachie, 1998); Live at Royal Albert Hall (Shanachie, 1999); In Harmony (Polygram, 2001). With Dolly Parton: Peace Train (RCA, 1996). With Paul Simon: Graceland (Warner Bros., 1985); Rhythm of the Saints (Warner Bros., 1990). With Andreas Vollenweider: Book of Roses (Columbia, 1992); Kryptos (Sony Classical, 1998). With Stevie Wonder: Conversation Peace (Motown, 1995).
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 30, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ladysmith-black-mambazo
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/ladysmith-black-mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
South African a capella group
“Humanity’s first instrument was the human voice.” This is the basic philosophy behind much of post-modern experimental performance. It is also the truth behind the music that a Zulu choir has brought out of South Africa into recording and concert prominence in the United States in recent years. The ten members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo were the best-selling group in the Union of South Africa. Now, thanks to their participation in Paul Simon’s Graceland album and tour, they have become popular recording artists in the United States as well.
The group, led by Joseph Shabalala, present a Zulu harmonic and variation style known as mbube. Stefan Grossman, distributor of the group’s albums on Shanachie Records and a major figure in the rise of knowledgable audiences for African music in America, has described their style as “a timeless beauty that transcends culture, language and all other artificial barriers dividing humanity.” American audiences, as attracted by the beat as the shifting harmonies, have purchased Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s own four albums, Induku Zethu,
Founded by leader Joseph Shabalala; other members include Abednigo Mazibuko, Albert Mazibuko, Geophrey Mdletshe, Russel Methembu, Jabulane Mwelase, Inos Phungula, Ben Shabalala, Headman Shabalala , and Jockey Shabalala; very popular in South Africa, the group came to prominence in the United States after performing on the Paul Simon album Graceland, 1986; toured with Simon, 1987, and appeared on his television special; has also toured the United States independently and appeared on television series “Saturday Night Live.”
Awards: Shared Grammy Award with Paul Simon, for Graceland.
Addresses: Office –c/o Shanachie Record Corp., P.O. Box 208, Newton, NJ 07860. Agent— Triad, 10100 Santa Monica Blvd., 16th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Umthombo Wamanzi, Ulwande Olungwele, and Inala, in greater and greater numbers.
But it is still as a part of the Graceland album, tour, and television special that most North Americans know Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Paul Simon heard the group when he was considering which of the many African musical ensembles to include in his album (which was recorded in London). He selected the group, along with Tao Ea Matsekha, the Boyoyo Boys and others, as examples of the “mbaqanga” sound (roughly translatable as “township jive”) which has political connotations within Africa and, as Simon recognized, an internationally attractive beat. Their cuts on the Graceland album, “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” and “Homeless” (by Simon and Shabalala), weretrememdously succesful, but it was the promotional performances with Simon on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and their participation in the Graceland concerts that won over America.
New York critics were fervent in their praise of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s sound and show. Commenting on the first set of Graceland performances at the Radio City Music Hall in late April 1987, David Hinckley wrote in the New York Daily News that they “won the crowd most easily with amazingly rich 10-part harmony whose elements ranged from call-and-response gospel to rhythm and blues and human beat box.” Don Aquilante wrote in the New York Post that “the real show-stoppers of the evening were Ladysmith Black Mambazo…. I have no idea what [Shabalala] called out in Zulu or what the gentlemen in his band responded, but it was fantastic, joyous, heartfelt, and big. These performers understand music performance is more than sound. They danced, mimed and interacted with one another, breaking any language barrier.” The call-and-response mode also caught the attention of Jon Pareles, writing in the New York Times: “In a tradition of competitive singing called iscanthamiya, Zulu choruses do dance routines while they harmonize, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, led by Joseph Shabalala, has great moves. Ladysmith’s own unaccompanied selections, in Zulu, call for singing and pointing and soft-shoeing.”
Critical and audience acclaim was just as positive when the Graceland tour returned to New York in July for appearances at Madison Square Garden. Even in that 19, 000-seat sports arena, Aquilante wrote in the New York Post, “this 10-man Zulu choir has an amazing rapport with the audience.” This rapport was also evident in the television special “Graceland: The African Concert,” taped in Zimbabwe for Showtime Entertainment and broadcast on the cable network in May 1987. Vince Aletti wrote in the Village Voice that, in their performances of “Nonathema” and “Hello to My Baby,” “the vivacious Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a 10-man a capella choir that fills the stage with concentrated energy, begins to pivot, kick and bounce in unison.”
When Graceland was awarded the Grammy as record of the year, many in the audience believed that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was recognizing more than a single album, star, group, or production. Graceland brought New African popular music out of the boycott/embargo that apartheid and its foes had erected around it. In the years since, the music forms, as represented by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, have quickly become among the most popular for both listening and dancing, with a growing audience throughout the world.
Graceland (includes Ladysmith Black Mambazo performing “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” and “Homeless”), Warner Brothers, 1986.
Induku Zethu, Shanachie Records, c. 1987.
Umthombo Wamanzi, Shanachie Records, c. 1987.
Ulwande Olungwele, Shanachie Records, c. 1987.
Inala, Shanachie Records, c. 1988.
New York Daily News, April 27, 1987.
New York Post, April 27, 1987; July 4, 1987.
New York Times, April 27, 1987.
Village Voice, May 12, 1987.
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 30, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ladysmith-black-mambazo
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ladysmith-black-mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo (mämbäz´ō), choral group formed in 1965 in Ladysmith, South Africa, led by Joseph Shabalala. The group, which sings with a precise yet free-flowing phrasing, has consisted of 8 to 12 members. Its lyrics, which generally reflect religious themes and everyday concerns, are sung mostly in Zulu, but also in English or Sotho. Their first internationally available album was Induku Zethu (1983). They achieved worldwide recognition and acclaim when they recorded with Paul Simon on his Graceland album (1986); Simon also produced their next album, the Grammy-winning Shaka Zulu (1987). Later releases include Two Worlds One Heart (1990) and Raise Your Spirit Higher (2004; Grammy). The group has also appeared in the drama The Song of Jacob Zulu (1993) and the musical Nomathembe (1995).
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 30, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ladysmith-black-mambazo
"Ladysmith Black Mambazo." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 30, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ladysmith-black-mambazo