Ladysmith Black Mambazo

South Africa’s world famous singing group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, return to Australia.  Fresh off winning their fifth Grammy Award (most by any World Music group in Grammy Award history) and representing their country at the April 21st Commonwealth Celebration for Queen Elizabeth’s 92nd Birthday in London, the group returns to Australia for concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart, Tasmania!

South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo was founded in the early 1960s by Joseph Shabalala, then a teenage farm boy living on the lands just outside the small town of Ladysmith, in the province of kwaZulu Natal.  To name his group, Joseph used his hometown to honor his family history.  He added the word Black in reference to the black oxen, the strongest of all farm animals. Mambazo is the Zulu word for chopping axe, a symbol of the group’s vocal ability to clear the path to success.

A radio broadcast in 1970 opened the door to their first record contract, the beginning of an ambitious recording career that currently includes more than seventy albums, earning nineteen Grammy Award nominations and five Grammy Award wins, including this year’s prize for Best World Music Album (Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30 Year Anniversary Celebration).

It was Nelson Mandela who called Ladysmith Black Mambazo South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the world.  It is a moniker the group members hold close to their hearts.  When Mandela was released from prison, in 1990, he said Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music was a powerful message of peace that he listened to while in jail.  When Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1993, he called on Ladysmith Black Mambazo to join him in Norway, to entertain at the ceremony. Nelson Mandela passed away in 2013 but the group has been celebrating Mandela’s message of peace at every concert they perform.

The group sings from a traditional music called isicathamiya (is-cot-a-ME-Ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa.  It was there that black workers were taken by rail to work far away from their homes and families.  Poorly housed and paid worse, the mine workers would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the wee hours on Sunday morning.  When the miners returned to the homelands, this musical tradition returned with them.

In the mid-1980s, American singer/songwriter Paul Simon famously visited South Africa and incorporated the group’s rich harmonies into the famous Graceland album (1986) with the hit song Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – a landmark recording considered seminal in introducing world music to mainstream audiences.

In addition to their work with Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has recorded with Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, Melissa Etheridge, and many others.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo carries a message of Peace, Love and Harmony as they travel the world year after year.  They bring this message, in song and dance, to every theatre they perform in.  We hope you will join them as they sing their message.

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