< Back to
< Back to all News
Ladysmith Black Mambazo Keeps the Music of their Childhood Alive
February 3, 2012
Since their earliest recordings and performances, the South
African-based Grammy Award-winning male a cappella group Ladysmith
Black Mambazo, as individuals and as a group, have maintained a
respect and a reverence for their past. The centuries-old
story of their homeland -- sometimes joyous, sometimes troubled,
but always rich and exhilarating -- has been at the very foundation
of this vocal group since its very beginning.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Tuesday, February 7 - 7:30
Hatfield Hall Theater
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
5500 Wabash Ave., Terre Haute, IN
Tickets : Adults range
from $23 to $27, while youths/college students are $20.
For tickets, call (812) 877-8544 or visit the Hatfield
Hall ticket office from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on
Information about other Rose-Hulman shows is available
But alongside the South African history witnessed by an entire
world, there's a quieter, more personal past shared by Ladysmith
Black Mambazo's members. It is a time of youth and innocence,
when the world consisted of nothing more than the hills and open
fields of their parents' farms in Zulu country.
Before the stage performances, before the collaborations with
American pop stars, and before the Grammy nominations and awards,
the only songs these children knew were the traditional folk tunes
handed down to them by their parents, their grandparents and the
countless generations that preceded them.
And yet, for all the decades that have come and gone, these
songs are still very much alive. Ladysmith Black Mambazo will
share these songs in a special show at Rose-Hulman Institute of
Technology's Hatfield Hall Theater on Tuesday, February 7, at 7:30
p.m. Tickets for adults range from $23 to $27, while
youths/college students are $20. For tickets, call (812)
877-8544 or visit the Hatfield Hall ticket office from 10 a.m. to 5
p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Taking the many songs and stories of their youth and adding new
lyrics, founder and frontman Joseph Shabalala and the other eight
members of the group have recreated the idyllic world in which they
once lived in their 2011 album Songs From A Zulu Farm, their most
personal work to date. It has been nominated for a Grammy
Award for Best World Music CD (being announced on February 12.)
"These are songs from the earliest time in our lives," stated
Shabalala in a press release announcing the album. "These are
stories our fathers and mothers and other relatives shared with us,
songs our grandparents sang. We have changed them somewhat
and/or added extra harmonies and lyrics, but overall these songs
represent an important memory of our early life. When we sing
these songs, we're singing songs from our history."
Shabalala revisits the farmland of his youth every month.
"Your roots are who you are. I've read somewhere that it is
very common for people to move back to their childhood home later
in life. This is true for many people I know. I go home
to see the sights I've known since I was a baby. I see that
field and I see my father and my mother standing with me as a
little boy. I love going home because it is just that . . .
For more than 40 years, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has married the
intricate rhythms and harmonies of their native South African
musical traditions to the sounds and sentiments of Christian gospel
music. The result is a musical and spiritual alchemy that has
touched a worldwide audience representing every corner of the
religious, cultural and ethnic landscape.
In the mid-1980s, Paul Simon visited South Africa and
incorporated Black Mambazo's rich tenor/alto/bass harmonies into
his Graceland album, a landmark 1986 recording that won the Grammy
Award for Best Album and is considered seminal in introducing world
music to mainstream audiences. Their performance with Simon
on Sesame Street is legendary and one of the top three requested
Sesame Street segments in history.
About Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Simon states, "It isn't merely
the grace and power of their dancing or the beauty of their singing
that rivets the attention, but the sheer joy and love that emanates
from their being."
The group provided soundtrack material for Disney's The Lion
King, Part II as well as Eddie Murphy's Coming To America. A
recent film documentary titled On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom,
The story of Ladysmith Black Mambazo was nominated for an Academy
Award for Best Documentary.
Learn more about Ladysmith Black Mambazo at www.mambazo.com.