Friday, September 26, 2008

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

One of the most frequently asked questions about Ladysmith Black Mambazo is where their name came from. "Ladysmith" is the hometown of group leader Joseph Shabalala. "Black" refers to a black ox, the strongest ox on the farm. "Mambazo" means axe in Zulu and symbolizes the groups ability to "chop down" the competition, musical or political.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has won 2 Grammy Awards and been nominated for several others. More poignant, however, is that after apartheid fell, Nelson Mandela brought the group along to join him when he accepted his Nobel Peace Prize. The group also performed at his inauguration, when he was made Prime Minister of South Africa. They have also performed for the Pope and the British Royal Family.

Paul Simon & Ladysmith black mambazo

The group's genre of music springs from the 19th century, when Zulu people were forced to work as slaves in the South African diamond mines. Taking the vocal harmony concept from their traditional mbube music, they created a style of music and dance that was expressive, yet extremely quiet, so as not to wake their camp night guards.