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Infectious Happiness

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Wednesday July 11, 2018

From The Sydney Morning Herald

Ladysmith Black Mambazo bring an infectious happiness to the stage
By: Nicole Precel

A cheery zulu greeting echoed out over the crowd. It was a taste of the warm atmosphere and deep velvety chorus to come from South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The Grammy-award winning male choral ensemble has been sharing its rhythms and harmonies for nearly 60 years. The nine men – the eldest is in his 70s – create a rich tapestry of acapella harmony work. It’s soulful, uplifting and vibrates within you.

They tour with a message of peace, love and harmony, and to break cultural boundaries: “Different colours mean nothing to me, different name means nothing to me,” they sing. Their vibrant choreography, including some incredibly high kicks, added to the joy and depth of their music, as the ensemble moved in and out of the microphone’s range, creating different layers to already complex arrangements. They sang with hand gestures to “the man who misses his home, misses his mountains, his rivers and the birds that sing so sweet,” and encouraged the audience to visit them in their hometown near Durban.

The performance was playful, with stirring bass, alto and tenor harmonies mixed with vocal clicks, pops, sometimes-breathy tones and rhythms. There was audience participation as they ripped through songs from their Shaka Zulu album: “Hello my Baby,” “How Long” and “Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain.” There were laughs, hoots and smiles from the audience. Two tracks from Graceland – “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” and “Homeless” – were greeted with huge applause.

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