A few years ago, I had the privilege to attend a concert offered by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. To say that I am a fan is an understatement… I have always danced to the tunes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It was special in so many ways because I saw the entire group including their leader Joseph Shabalala, I heard their harmony which had been part of my life, and I also danced to some South African music (extra, extra bonus)… For those who are not familiar with the group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is an a capella group of male vocalists founded in the early 1960s by Joseph Shabalala in South Africa. The group fuses indigenous Zulu songs and dances with South African isicathamiya, an a capella tradition that is frequently accompanied by a soft, shuffling style of dance. The name of the group can be broken down as: Ladysmith for the city where they grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; Black for the black oxen who is the strongest animal on the farm; and Mambazo which is Zulu for an axe which represents the ability for the group to cut down competition.
They were introduced to the global stage by Paul Simon with their collaboration on his 1986 Graceland album. They are seen dancing and singing in the last scene of Michael Jackson‘s movie ‘Moonwalker,’ where their entrancing song goes as, “Come and see. The moon is dancing.” Not to be in awe of their amazing songs, the harmony, their voices, is truly not possible.
It is with great sadness that I heard of the passing of the founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala. I am just so glad that his legacy, the Ladysmith Black Mambazo, leaves on, and that his voice will still serenade countless people around the globe. Long Live Joseph Shabalala’s legacy! Long Live Ladysmith Black Mambazo!