definition of Wikipedia
|Ladysmith Black Mambazo|
Ladysmith Black Mambazo in concert at Ravinia, 2006
|Origin||Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa|
|Years active||1960–1964 (original group)
1964–present (current incarnation)
|Labels||Gallo Record Company (1973–present)
Warner Bros. Records (1986–1995)
Shanachie Records (1986–2000)
Wrasse Records (1998–2004)
Heads Up International (2004–2010)
Listen2 Entertainment Group (2010–present)
(founder, lead singer, and musical director)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a male choral group from South Africa that sings in the vocal styles of isicathamiya and mbube. They rose to worldwide prominence as a result of singing with Paul Simon on his album, Graceland, and have won multiple awards, including three Grammy Awards. They were formed by Joseph Shabalala in 1960 and later became one of South Africa's most prolific recording artists, with their releases receiving gold and platinum disc honors. The group has now become a mobile academy, teaching people about South Africa and its culture.
Joseph Shabalala formed Ladysmith Black Mambazo because of a series of dreams he had in 1964, in which he heard certain isicathamiya harmonies (isicathamiya being the traditional music of the Zulu people). Following their local success at wedding ceremonies and other gatherings, Shabalala entered them into isicathamiya competitions. The group was described as 'so good' that they were eventually forbidden to enter the competitions, but welcomed to entertain at them. Although they had been recognised as an isicathamiya group in 1964, they had been singing together since the early 1950s. They released their first album, Amabutho, in 1973. The album, along with many other releases by the group, received gold disc certification. Ladysmith Black Mambazo's collaboration with Paul Simon in 1986 paved the way for international releases.
The first incarnation of Ladysmith Black Mambazo was "Ezimnyama" ("The Black Ones"), formed by Shabalala in December 1960. The members of the group were relatives (mostly brothers and cousins) of Shabalala, with many having sung with him while he was growing up on the farm where he was born. Although the group did sing well together and captured the sound of cothoza mfana (tip toe boys, a 1960s slang term for isicathamiya) and mbube groups of the time, they were unknown outside of the Ladysmith district.
In 1964, Shabalala had a series of recurring dreams during his sleep, over a period of six months, featuring a choir singing in perfect harmony. Shabalala described this as a beautiful sound, and one not yet achieved by his group of the time. As a result, he reformed the group, bringing on board newer (younger) relatives but keeping the group name. He strived to teach them the harmonies from his dreams, creating what was to become a signature tune for the group: "Nomathemba" (a girl's name - meaning "hope"). After deciding that this group well replicated the beautiful, soft sounds from his dreams, Shabalala entered the group into isicathamiya competitions, held on Saturday nights in the halls of hostels in Durban and Johannesburg. The group managed to win nearly every competition that was held. As a result, Shabalala decided to change the name of the group to be more descriptive of its talent. The name "Ezimnyama" was replaced by "Ladysmith Black Mambazo".
The three elements of the new name were: the hometown of Shabalala's family, Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal; the black ox, considered to be the strongest farm animal; and mambazo, which means axe in the Zulu language, and is symbolic of the choir's ability to "chop down" the competition.
Eventually, by the early 1970s, the group was forbidden to compete in the competitions because of their continual success. They were, however, welcome to perform without taking part in the competition itself.
In 1967, the group began to make recordings for the SABC station Radio Zulu, appearing in DJ Alexius Buthelezi's popular Cothoza Mfana programme which spotlighted the music of several local choirs. Their success was so great that music producers began enticing the group to sign a recording contract. In 1972 the group signed with Gallo Record Company under producer West Nkosi at the organisation's African music division, Mavuthela Music Company (Nkosi was also well known in South Africa as a saxophone jive star). Ladysmith Black Mambazo released their first album the following year, Amabutho, which received gold status and was the first album by a black musician or group in South Africa to do so. Their subsequent albums also received gold or platinum certification. With the release of their second album, they had become professional singers.
In 1976, Shabalala converted to Christianity and a host of religious material now entered the group's repertoire. Mambazo's first religious album, Ukukhanya Kwelanga, was released soon afterwards. It earned a double platinum disc award, and the group's repertoire came to be dominated by hymns, mostly Methodist. Their 1977 LP Ukusindiswa became one of their most popular religious albums, selling double gold discs within three weeks of release. By 1981, the group's popularity was such that the apartheid government allowed the members to travel to Cologne, Germany as part of a South African folk music festival. The group toured West Germany and appeared on television, and learned some of the German language; for the group's 1981 album Phansi Emgodini, Shabalala composed a song titled "Wir Grüssen Euch Alle" ("We greet you all"). The following year, the group traveled back to Germany to appear on a televised quiz programme, bringing about requests for more live appearances. A track by the group also appeared on the groundbreaking British compilation album The Indestructible Beat of Soweto.
In 1985, Paul Simon traveled to South Africa in the hope of collaborating with African musicians for his Graceland album. Simon contacted Shabalala and conversed with him in person - after much discussion and excitement, the group traveled to London to record with Simon. The first recording was "Homeless" - the music and chorus were composed by Simon, with Shabalala composing the Zulu introduction and main (non-English) body of the song. Graceland was released in late 1986, and although both Joseph Shabalala and Paul Simon were accused of breaking the cultural boycott of South Africa, the album became a huge success and sold 16 million copies and further boosted Ladysmith Black Mambazo's international image. This also paved the way for other African acts such as Stimela and Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens to gain popularity amongst Western audiences.
After Graceland, Simon acted as producer for their first album for US Release on Warner BRothers Records Shaka Zulu (1987). Two more records were recorded for Warner Brothers Records in the US Journey of Dreams (1988) and Two Worlds, One Heart (1990). On the latter album, the group recorded with The Winans, Julia Fordham and George Clinton among other then-popular artists. Shaka Zulu was nominated (and won) in the category of Best Traditional Folk Recording in the Grammy Awards 1988.
In 1988, Ladysmith Black Mambazo appeared in Michael Jackson's movie Moonwalker, where they performed "The Moon Is Walking" (an abridged version of the song "Lindelani", which appears on Journey of Dreams) over the end credits. Ladysmith Black Mambazo was also featured in the Sesame Street song "Put Down The Duckie".
Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo also arranged and sang on two numbers, "We Carry On" and "Going Home," on Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of Spartacus, released in 1992. The group played the role of Spartacus' army of former slaves.
On 10 December 1991, Shabalala's brother and one of the bass members in the group, Headman Shabalala, was shot and killed by Sean Nicholas, a white off-duty security guard. Paul Simon, who believed the killing to be racially motivated, led the court proceedings against Nicholas. Joseph Shabalala stopped singing. Eventually, aided by his Christian beliefs, he returned to singing. Following the retirement of three more members in 1993, Shabalala recruited four of his sons into the group.
The Apartheid system was abolished in 1994. The release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years imprisonment brought a celebratory album release - 1993's Liph' Iqiniso. The album's last track, "Isikifil' Inkululeko" ("Freedom Has Arrived"), was a celebration of the end of Apartheid.
According to Shabalala, Nelson Mandela (shortly after his release from prison) publicly stated that the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo were "South Africa's cultural ambassadors". Ladysmith Black Mambazo accompanied the future President of South Africa to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway at the request of Nelson Mandela, in 1993. Mambazo sang again at President Mandela's inauguration in May 1994, and then later at his birthday celebrations.
In 1997, for a series of television advertisements entitled "Toast for Life" for Heinz soups, baked beans, salad cream, and tomato ketchup, the group recorded an abridged version of "Inkanyezi Nezazi" ("The Star and the Wiseman"). The adverts proved so popular that the original studio version (recorded back in 1992) was released as a single, with the cover art imitating the label on a tin of Heinz Baked Beans; the single reached #2 in the UK Pop Charts. The single was followed up by The Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo - The Star and the Wiseman in 1998, a compilation release which became so popular that it was certified triple platinum, selling 1 million copies in Britain alone. The Heinz campaign led to a reawakening of the group in Britain, and many television and radio performances beckoned over the next few years, as well as performing for the British royal family. In 2001, the group was referenced in the Family Guy episode Lethal Weapons.
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As a follow-up to the traditional release Lihl' Ixhiba Likagogo in 2000, the group began preparations for Wenyukela, another album of new material, in 2002. However, the making of the record underwent severe strain when, in May 2002, Shabalala's wife of thirty years (and lead singer in the allied group "Women of Mambazo"), Nellie, was murdered in a church car park by a masked gunman. Shabalala's hand was injured trying to protect his wife. Joseph's son Vivian Nkosinathi was accused of hiring a hitman to murder his stepmother Nellie. During the court trial, Nkosinathi supposedly testified that the South African police offered some kind of reprieve if he would implicate his own father, Joseph, in the murder.
Wenyukela, however, went ahead, as Shabalala began to recover. Songs such as "Wenza Ngani?" ("How Did You Do That?") had a moral theme, such as racism. Others included "Fak' Ibhande" ("Don't Drink and Drive"), which warned of the dangers of alcohol and driving; "Wenyukela", which spoke of the resurrection of Jesus and how South Africans were nearly misled into killing each other during the 1994 elections; and "Selingelethu Sonke", a song asking for fair trade in Africa. The group had originally spoken of the issue of fair trade in the Oxfam campaign Make Trade Fair. They appeared as guests in "The Big Noise", a worldwide petition for fair trade.
The success of Wenyukela in South Africa prompted its release in Britain in March 2003 on Wrasse Records. Following the repeated success of the album, the American-based Heads Up International released the album in January 2004. In addition to the standard version, Heads Up released the album in the Hybrid SACD format. The US release reportedly went platinum and it garnered the group their second Grammy Award. They also embarked on a three month tour of the United States.
The group signed to Heads Up (in America; they remained with Gallo in South Africa) with their 2005 release, No Boundaries, a collaboration with the English Chamber Orchestra which featured many classical standards (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, Ave Verum Corpus) and Mambazo tunes (Homeless, Awu, Wemadoda, Ngingenwe Emoyeni). Despite initial worry about merging European traditions and Zulu folklore, the album sold very well and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Long Walk to Freedom, a celebration of 45 years of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, was released by the group on 24 January 2006. On the album (which also celebrated the 20th anniversary of Graceland), the group recorded with a multitude of artists including Zap Mama, Sarah McLachlan, Melissa Etheridge, Joe McBride, Natalie Merchant, Emmylou Harris, and Taj Mahal as well as South African musicians Lucky Dube, Phuzekhemisi, Bhekumuzi Luthuli, Nokukhanya, Thandiswa, Vusi Mahlasela and Hugh Masekela. Ladysmith Black Mambazo also expressed wishes to work with Paul Simon once more, twenty years on since Graceland.
To support the promotion of the album and tour, Mambazo appeared on various television and radio programmes throughout January and February 2006. The group also started a street team; this is currently exclusive to fans in the US and Canada.
In April 2006, Mambazo collaborated with Josh Groban for his third studio album, Awake. The songs, "Weeping" and "Lullaby", featured a clear South African influence; lines from a Mambazo song, "Wangibambezela" ("Message from his Heart") were added to the backing track of "Weeping". Following this, in August 2006, Mambazo began working with Mavis Staples in a collaboration for Staples's new album. Whilst Mambazo toured the United States, the television program Saturday Night Live parodied the group in a TV Funhouse sketch, hosted by Dennis Haysbert, about failed Saturday morning cartoons starring black cartoon characters, one of which was a cartoon featuring the group called, Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Outer Space. Members of the group added commentary to the short for the DVD release of the SNL special, "The Best of TV Funhouse".
On 17 October 2006, Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed a special concert, Long Walk to Freedom: An Evening with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The night included special guest appearances by Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Mahotella Queens, Vusi Mahlasela, and Pete Seeger.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo was nominated for two Grammy Awards in the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in 2007, for their album Long Walk to Freedom. The album was nominated in the categories Best Contemporary World Music Album and Best Surround Sound Production, but did not win.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo's 2007 album, Ilembe, was released on 26 February 2007. It was released in South Africa initially, and issued in the United Kingdom on the Warner Jazz label on 2 April 2007 (under the title Ilembe - Our Tribute to King Shaka). The album featured new recordings such as "Ommu Beno Mmu" ("Somebody And Somebody"), "Sizobalanda" ("We Are Here") and "Iphel' Emasini" ("A Cockroach In The Milk" - Zulu proverb). The album was released in the United States on 22 January 2008, under the title Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu, on Heads Up International.
There had been many questions on when founder, director, composer, and lead singer Joseph Shabalala would finally retire from his group. On 23 January 2008, Shabalala issued a statement on this.
The full statement is reproduced below:
|“||In the early 1960's I had a dream of a type of singing group that I wanted to create. Not just a dream, in the wishful way, but an actual dream while I was asleep. This beautiful dream led to the creation of my group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Now, some forty five plus years later this original dream has led to so many more dreams. We have been awarded Grammy Awards, represented our homeland of South Africa at many prestigious events, including accompanying Nelson Mandela to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, traveled the world so many times and most importantly, spread a message of Peace, Love and Harmony to millions of people.
This was never a dream a black South African could ever imagine.
As the years have passed, and the 20th century became the 21st, I started to get asked what will happen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo once I retired, if I ever retired. Well, I have spent much time thinking about this. Ladysmith Black Mambazo was never about one person. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a mission. A mission to spread our message and to keep our culture alive and known. South Africa is a most wonderful place, filled with beautiful people. By touring, as we have, almost seven months every year for over twenty years, we have wanted to keep South Africa alive in people's hearts.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a family. Within the group I have had brothers and cousins singing together. Over the past fifteen years, because of retirements and death, I have been joined by four of my sons. They are the future of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, our next generation. The mission and message will continue. When the time comes for me to finish touring and to stay home they will carry on my dream. As well, my son Thamsanqa (Tommy) will become the new leader of the group. Thus, the dream I had over forty five years ago will continue well into the 21st century. Ladysmith Black Mambazo must continue as the message of Peace, Love and Harmony never must be silenced. We never will be silenced and we hope our fans and friends around the world will keep wanting to hear this message.
Ngiyabonga! Thank you!
—Joseph Shabalala, January 23, 2008
Ladysmith Black Mambazo's 2007 release, Ilembe, garnered success on both sides of the world. In 2008 the group won the SAMA Award for Best Traditional A Cappella Album for Ilembe, and it was announced in November 2008 that the US Surround sound version of the album was nominated for Best Traditional World Music Album in the 2009 Grammy Awards, marking their 13th Grammy nomination. The group won this award - their third Grammy - in the ceremony held on 8 February 2009.
In September 2008, Mambazo in collaboration with the SABC Choir released My Dream - African Sounds, an album featuring the two choirs performing each other's songs, as well as singing together. Songs included are "Plea for Africa", original Mambazo tunes "Shintsha Sithothobala" and "Angimboni Ofana Naye", as well as new compositions like "Buya Lindiwe" and "Okuhle Hle".
Ladysmith Black Mambazo's 2010 album Kobuye Kulunge was released in April 2010, initially in South Africa only. It is expected to be released internationally by the end of the year.
In January 2012, Ladysmith Black Mambazo released a two-disc album featuring them collaborating with a wide range of artists across the world. The collaborations include Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Taj Mahal, Emylou Harris and Zap Mama amongst others.
In January 1999, Joseph Shabalala founded The Ladysmith Black Mambazo Foundation. The aim of the organization is to teach young Zulu South African children about their traditional culture and music; isicathamiya. Today, the Mambazo Academy is currently being built, with plans for a rehearsal hall, teaching areas and a professional recording studio. The main aim, of course, is to promote and teach the history of isicathamiya music to youngsters.
Albert Mazibuko, Shabalala's cousin and longtime Ladysmith Black Mambazo member, says that the Foundation was created to give back to the young people in their country, especially from where they lived in Ladysmith, South Africa. He feels it’s important to help the young generation improve over the last. The Foundation raises money to bring social activities like singing and dancing so South African children know who they are and where their history is. Mazibuko adds, "We feel it’s very important to keep your cultural identity to help make you a better stronger person."
Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been acknowledged in award ceremonies such as the Grammy Awards and Academy Awards. In 1988, the group received their first Grammy Award for the album Shaka Zulu, which was their first release recorded for the American market. Since then, they have won two more, and have been nominated for a total of thirteen times.
|1981||SARIE Award||Best Choral Group on Disc|
|1988||Grammy Award||Best Traditional Folk Recording||Shaka Zulu|
|1993||Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Music in a Play||The Song of Jacob Zulu (stage)|
|1996||Drama Desk Award||Best Original Music Score||Nomathemba (stage)|
|1997||SAMA Award||Best Zulu Music Album||Ukuzala-Ukuzelula|
|1997||SAMA Award||Best Duo or Group Award||Ukuzala-Ukuzelula|
|2001||SAMA Award||Best Zulu Music Album||Lihl' Ixhiba Likagogo|
|2005||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Raise Your Spirit Higher|
|2008||SAMA Award||Best Traditional A Cappella Album||Ilembe|
|2009||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu|
|1988||Grammy Award||Best Traditional Folk Recording||Shaka Zulu|
|1991||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Classic Tracks|
|1993||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Best of - Vol. 1|
|1995||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Liph' Iqiniso|
|1995||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Gift of the Tortoise|
|1996||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Thuthukani Ngoxolo|
|1998||Grammy Award||Best Contemporary World Music Album||Heavenly|
|1999||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Live at the Royal Albert Hall|
|2001||Academy Award||Best Short Documentary Film||On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom|
|2002||Emmy Award||Best Cultural Documentary||On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom|
|2005||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Raise Your Spirit Higher|
|2006||Grammy Award||Best Contemporary World Music Album||No Boundaries|
|2007||Grammy Award||Best Contemporary World Music Album||Long Walk to Freedom|
|2007||Grammy Award||Best Surround Sound Production||Long Walk to Freedom|
|2009||Grammy Award||Best Traditional World Music Album||Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu|
After the release of the group's first album in 1973, they were banned from competing in the isicathamiya competitions because of their ability to win many of the competition. They were, however, welcome to perform for the audience. Following this, the group started performing for their own audiences in shows that were specially made - and soon afterwards, the group began touring around South Africa in their own concerts, but due to the Apartheid system in use, they were often stopped by police guards; on some of these occasions they were even made to lie down on the ground whilst being searched. Shortly afterwards, they were allowed to tour without permits.
By 1986, the group had a very small number of white fans in South Africa; the majority of their fan base was black people (the group mainly toured in townships). After Paul Simon included the group on his "Graceland Tour of 1987", the group began touring by themselves and became very widely known. They have visited Europe, USA, and Asia, amongst others. The group is quite possibly better known in the USA (after the Graceland success and various advert campaigns for 7-Up and Life Savers candy) and the UK (again, because of the Graceland success, and several successful advertisements for Heinz).
The group tours eight months of the year.
In April 2011 they were embroiled in a controversy over performing in Israel which they ultimately chose not to do. After announcements were made in the previous December about performing in Tel Aviv, they came under pressure from Palestinian groups. In April they claimed there never was any agreement to perform in Israel and they joined with COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) in denouncing Israel in media such as the Sowetan as an "apartheid regime" that was neither free nor democratic and in violation of human rights and international law.
2012 they will tour North America from mid January until April.
Initially, the group was formed of Joseph Shabalala, his brothers Headman and Enoch, cousins Albert, Milton, Funokwakhe, Abednego and Joseph Mazibuko as well as close friends Matovoti Msimanga and Walter Malinga. Altogether, the group has had over 30 different members at one point or another over the past forty-five years.
Even though the early line-ups of the group contained a large number of relatives from Shabalala's family (and, from 1969, his cousins from the Mazibuko family), most of the members that arrived in the group after the mid-1970s were recruited for their professional qualities. After alto voice Milton Mazibuko was murdered in 1980, the group spent quite a few months 'off', until returning the following year with two new members, Inos Phungula and Geophrey Mdletshe. In the 1970s, the group's original six members had been joined by many other men (most of whom only stayed with them for the recording sessions). The "Graceland" Group, that is the members who were with the group during the Paul Simon recording and tours, stayed together until 1993. After the murder of Joseph's brother, Headman, in 1991, brother Ben Shabalala and friend Geophrey Mdletshe retired. Three of Joseph Shabalala's sons joined the group in at that point, Thulani, Sibongiseni and Thamsanqa. In 1998, Inos Phungula retired and was replaced by another son of Joseph, Msizi Shabalala.
The members of the group currently reside in or near Pinetown, just outside of the coastal city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. The chorus' members are Joseph Shabalala; his sons Thamsanqa, Msizi, Thulani, and Sibongiseni; cousins Albert and Abednego Mazibuko; and close friends Russel Mthembu and Ngane Dlamini. Jabulani Dubazana, a member of the group since 1975, retired from international touring in September 2004. Long-time member Jockey Shabalala died at his home in Ladysmith, South Africa on 11 February 2006. He was 62, and was a member of the group for almost forty years.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo first recorded in 1973 on the Gallo label in South Africa. Since then the group has recorded over 50 albums, many of which have received gold- and/or platinum-disc certification.
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