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Mandela's 'Cultural Ambassadors'

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Thursday January 31, 2019

From The Washington Informer

Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Mandela’s ‘Cultural Ambassadors’
By: D. Kevin McNeir

The rich harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the South African all-male vocal group whose roots go back to the early 1960s, gained international acclaim after being showcased by Paul Simon on his 1987 Grammy-Award-winning, Album of the Year, ‘Graceland’ – an eclectic combination of genres which Simon composed with the help of musicians from the former bastion of apartheid after his hearing a bootleg cassette of South African township music.

[…] And now, with a recording career that includes over 70 albums, 19 Grammy nominations and five Grammy Awards under their belt, Ladysmith Black Mambazo will take centerstage at the Strathmore on Friday, Feb. 8 for a performance that one longtime member promises will inspire listeners no matter what the color of their skin or their native land.

‘Whenever we perform, it’s an amazing experience both for us and for our audience – we all share in a special feeling of happiness and joy. During the end of the show, we get people totally involved – like the traditional ‘call and response.’ We don’t use any instruments. Our voices are the instruments. And since our founding, and even with our founder’s sons [Shabalala retired in 2014] now leading the group, we continue to grow stronger, to encourage those who listen to our music to come together so we can solve the problems of the world in peace,’ said Albert Mazibuko, 70, a native of Ladysmith who joined the group 50 years ago.

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