The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a chorus from South Africa that is noted for singing a cappella mbube music. They rose to worldwide prominence as a result of singing with Paul Simon on his album, Graceland.

The chorus' members are Joseph Shabalala, Msizi Shabalala, Russel Mthembu, Albert Mazibuko, Jabulani Dubazana, Thulani Shabalala, Thamsanqa Shabalala, Jockey Shabalala and Abednego Mazibuko.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was formed as a result of a dream that Joseph Shabalala had in 1964, in which he heard particular harmonies. He recruited friends and family to form the group, and taught them the harmonies he had heard. The group entered and won many singing contests. They were so good that they were eventually forbidden to enter the competitions but were welcomed to entertain at them. In 1970, they made a radio broadcast which led to a recording contract. A Los Angeles DJ sent a copy of their music to Paul Simon, and this led to their work on Graceland.

After Graceland, Simon acted as producer on other records for the group aimed at the American market. They have since travelled the world, working with performers such as Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, The Wynans , Julia Fordham , George Clinton and Russell Watson, and performing for Nelson Mandela, the Pope and the British Royal family.

The group has won two Grammy Awards:

  • For "Shaka Zulu" in the category Best Traditional Folk Recording, in 1987.
  • For "Raise your spirit higher" in the category Best Traditional World Music Album, in 2005.

The name of the group is derived in the following manner: "Ladysmith" is the hometown of the Shabalala family; "Black" referrers to black oxen, considered to be the strongest on the farm; the Zulu word "Mambazo" means ax - symbolic of the group's ability to "chop down" the competition.

Zulu Language

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Last updated: 05-07-2005 14:54:25
Last updated: 08-19-2005 10:51:33