Tuesday February 28, 2012
Ladysmith Black Mambazo: How we inspired Mandela
By Jessica Ellis
With their soulful voices and traditional Zulu dance moves, South African acappella singing sensation Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been blending vocal harmonies to take audiences on a musical journey for nearly half a century.
The legendary male choral group has sold millions of albums worldwide, collaborated with music icons such as Paul Simon and counts Nelson Mandela as one of their faithful fans — the venerable Nobel Peace Prize winner has described the group as “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors.”
It’s all a far cry from when young farmer-turned-factory worker Joseph Shabalala formed the band in 1964, hoping to use music as a vehicle to unite people in a country suffering from social divide and conflict.
“The music is for the people, we must take this music to the people,” recalls Shabalala, one of the two remaining original members of the nine-piece group.
Already successful in their homeland, the band’s international breakthrough came in 1986, when American singer and songwriter Paul Simon featured them on his album “Graceland.” Simon also took them on tour with him and produced the band’s “Shaka Zulu” album, which won the 1988 Grammy Award for best traditional folk album.
Since then, Ladysmith Black Mambazo have won two other Grammys and have received a total of 16 nominations.
Read the full article here