Still Living The Dream

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Thursday July 06, 2017

From Yorkshire Evening Post

Music interview: Ladysmith Black Mambazo are still living the dream
By: Duncan Seaman

From the apartheid era, when the choir from KwaZulu-Natal were one of the few groups who were allowed to tour outside their homeland, to an enormously successful partnership with the American singer songwriter Paul Simon on his multi-million selling album Graceland, then on to the being declared ‘South Africa’s cultural ambassadors’ by Nelson Mandela after he was freed from prison then elected the country’s first black president.

The group, who sing a cappella in the isicathamiya and mbube Zulu tradition, continue to tour today and, following the retirement from touring of their founder Joseph Shabalala, Mazibuko is their longest serving member. Such is their enduring popularity they have added a second concert in Leeds, after their first date sold out. ‘English audiences have been embracing us from the beginning so coming to England is like going to a place where the people have lifted you up and then they let the world see you,’ says the 69-year-old. ‘We are very excited and we are going to do our best. Right now Ladysmith Black Mambazo are celebrating 57 years so we are choosing all the favourite songs that we know people will love. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to leave out some songs because they are all wonderful but we will make sure we give them their favourites.’ Joseph Shabalala’s inspiration to form the group, back in 1960, came from a dream he had about a choir that could sing in perfect harmony. Mazibuko remembers his cousin relating the idea to him before he joined in 1969. ‘He also had a dream that brought him to us. He dreamt of his grandmother, which is my grandfather’s sister, who told him ‘Go to your brothers’ ‘” according to our cousin, because we are second cousins, we call each other brothers ‘” ‘they will help you to achieve your dream’.

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