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Belfast Festival: Ladysmith sing on

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Thursday October 18, 2012

from The Belfast Telegraph

By Andrew Johnston

After nearly half a century as a member of South Africa’s prime musical export, you might think it would be hard for Ladysmith Black Mambazo co-founder Albert Mazibuko to pick a favourite moment.

The iconic vocal group have topped charts, won Grammy Awards, performed for royalty and collaborated with everyone from Paul Simon to, er, B*Witched. But one meeting looms large.

“A particular performance that stays with me all the time is when we were in Oslo in Norway accompanying Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk to receive their Nobel Peace Prize,” beams the still spry 64-year-old. “That morning we were witnessing the two leaders of our country receiving the peace for our country. It was a pride like I have never felt in my life. I will never forget that.”

Incredibly, the current incarnation of the band will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2014. “It’s going to be a big year for us,” marvels Albert. “We will be celebrating that Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been around all these years, and encouraging the young people that are singing the same kind of music.”

But for now, it’s business as usual, and that means a heavy touring schedule all around the world — including a festival date at the Waterfront Hall. The nine-man outfit last played Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, though the actual date seems lost in the mists of time.

“I can’t remember what year we were there,” laughs Albert, “but it has been a long time. We are very much looking forward to coming back.”

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