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REVIEW: Ladysmith Black Mambazo Delivers Evening of Harmonies

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Thursday January 26, 2012

from The Kansas City Star

Ladysmith Black Mambazo delivers joyful message in the universal language of music
By Timothy Finn

A cliché may be a worn-out truth but it’s a truth nonetheless, and one well-known truth came forth boldly Tuesday night inside the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts: Music is a language the whole world speaks.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the nine-piece a cappella chorale from South Africa, performed for a crowd of about 1,600 in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre for two hours, including an intermission, entertaining them with song, dance, comedic bits and stories about their music and their homeland.

They sang mostly in their native Zulu, pulling most of their set list from “Songs From a Zulu Farm,” a collection of childhood songs and an album, it was noted several times, that is up for a Grammy in February.

Ladysmith was founded 50 years ago by a man whose name itself is a song: Joseph Shabalala, 70. He is the group’s conductor, music director, lead vocalist, chief spokesman and patriarch. Half of the men who perform behind him are his sons.

They performed on a stage equipped only with microphones and monitors, although it seemed, especially in this venue, that they could have done without either. They sing in a style called “isicathamiya,” which comprises the lush and layered vocals and the dancing that accompanies it.

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