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Ladysmith Black Mambazo Sings Peaceful Harmonies

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Thursday January 21, 2016

From Westword

ON THE EVE OF MLK DAY, LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO SINGS PEACEFUL HARMONIES AT L2 CHURCH
By: Emily Healy

Ladysmith Black Mambazo began with a Zulu welcome song. The group charmed the crowd with heartwarming humor and introductions for each song. Several songs into the set, they sang “Long Way to Freedom/Halala South Africa,” and dedicated it to Nelson Mandela.

The choral arrangements of the group consist of lead, alto, tenor and bass, and the group incorporated sound effects throughout the performance, including noises invoking nature and everyday village life. The song “Phansi em godini (Down in the Mines)” is about the treacherous work miners endure everyday in South Africa. The exquisite reverb from the acoustics of the L2 Church and the echoing vocals mimicked the vast expanse found in deep underground caverns. The song ended with a cheerful dance routine and the audience clapping along ardently.

After an intermission and outfit change, the band returned to the stage and brought the audience rushing back to their seats with a brief version of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,” which was co-composed with Simon. Reaching further back into their repertoire, they then performed “Rain Rain Beautiful Rain,” which carried overtones of gospel music. Shabalala converted to Christianity in the ‘70s, and apart from traditional Zulu music, their performances include arrangements inspired in part by American gospel.

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