Ladysmith Black Mambazo Needs No Translation

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Monday February 11, 2013

From The Lexington Herald-Leader

When Ladysmith Black Mambazo sings, the message needs no translation
By: Walter Tunis

African music. American ears. Strangely enough, the combination continues to work.

“There is no language barrier,” said Albert Mazibuko, who has been singing tenor with Mambazo since 1969. “In fact, it amazes me because the people, they understand the message. I think it’s because the music has its own language. With the music, you receive a feeling, and that feeling tells what the song is about.

“I also think that people all over the world are facing the same problems, problems we try to address in our music. I think that’s why people always relate to our singing. So our mission is this: We want to tell people that they should be together and solve their problems and strive to do good things all the time.”

Here sits one of the most curious contrasts within Mambazo’s music. The ensemble’s singing is often pastoral ‘” a fact that is perhaps not surprising given the high spiritual content of its material (among the group’s many in-progress recording projects is an album of American gospel music). But there are also songs representative of social, work and political life within a still-fragile post-apartheid South Africa. Those tunes sound just as angelic as the spiritual works.

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