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Ladysmith Black Mambazo Will Be Here Forever

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Monday January 21, 2019

From Charleston City Paper

Ladysmith Black Mambazo continues with a new generation of voices
By: Stratton Lawrence

The a cappella voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo first reached most American ears on Paul Simon’s seminal Graceland, but the band was 25 years old by the time Simon made them the hottest world music act on the globe. Over 30 years later, they’re still recording – and winning Grammys – at a tireless pace. Founder Joseph Shabalala retired in 2014, handing the torch to his four sons, each of whom joined the group in 1993.

Founding member and tenor singer Albert Mazibuko, 70, is now the group’s elder, shepherding the all-vocal band as they hold true to the Zulu isicathamiya tradition (a men’s harmonizing style that originated in the mines of South Africa) that defines their sound.

“Ladysmith Black Mambazo will be here forever, as long as the people who are in it follow the example to work hard, be disciplined, believe in yourself, and don’t be distracted,” says Mazibuko over Skype from South Africa, before the band set out for a two-month U.S. tour that begins at the Charleston Music Hall. The group tours about seven months of the year, but still performs weekly at churches and corporate functions when they’re home in Durban. They’ve also launched the Ladysmith Black Mambazo Mobile Academy, an education initiative that encourages South African children to learn and perform their traditional music styles.

[…] The group’s next album, currently in mastering and scheduled for a 2019 release, is comprised entirely of new, original songs by Shabalala’s sons.

“It will be a celebration,” says Mazibuko, who celebrates 50 years with the band this year and hopes to perform for 20 more. “The new songs will have a good impact on people. They have a positive message, and I hope Ladysmith Black Mambazo will continue to be blessed.”

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