Ladysmith Black Mambazo presents New Album and US Tour

Bloomington, Indiana, USA –

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
releases Raise Your Spirit Higher—Wenyukela
on Heads Up International (HUCD 3083) on January 27, 2004, in time for the ten-year
anniversary of the end of apartheid. In English, the word Wenyukela means “raise
your spirit higher
,” but the language of Joseph Shabalala’s stirring and
richly layered vocal compositions are universal. Raise Your Spirit Higher
is Ladysmith’s message of hope and unity to a troubled world.

Against a backdrop of political upheaval and personal tragedy, Joseph Shabalala
and the ten-member vocal group—now including four of his sons—have spent three
decades fusing the disparate but spiritually resonant traditions of Zulu and
Christian gospel music. They harness the unifying power of music to transcend
the dim places and raise their spirits higher. As survivors of South African
apartheid, the group’s Raise Your Spirit Higher reiterates this message
from Ladysmith’s earliest days while addressing many of the struggles that
persist around the world.And while the music is clearly rooted in African musical traditions, the message
speaks to all people whose ears and hearts are open, says Shabalala, a native of
South Africa’s Zulu people who converted to Christianity around the time of his
musical awakening in the late 1950s and early ’60s. To this day he is an active
minister in a township outside of Durban, where he gives sermons in Zulu. “Without
hearing the lyrics, this music gets into the blood, because it comes from the
blood
,” he says. “It invokes enthusiasm and excitement, regardless of
what you follow spiritually
.”

Shabalala’s spirituality underwent the supreme test during the making of this
record. In the spring of 2002, his wife of thirty years was murdered in a church
parking lot by a masked gunman. To date, no conviction has been made. Despite
the overwhelming grief that inevitably follows such a profound loss, Shabalala
chose the spiritual high road and has remained on it since. He keeps Nellie’s
memory and spirit alive in his heart and music, and his faith remains unshaken.
At the time that this happened, I tried to take my mind deep into the spirit,
because I know the truth is there
,” he says. “In my flesh, I might be
angry, I might cry, I might suspect somebody. But when I took my mind into the
spirit, the spirit told me to be calm and not to worry. Bad things happen, and
the only thing to do is to raise your spirit higher
.”

He had help from his teenage grandsons, who express their love and support in
“Tribute,” a short but moving hip-hop track that closes out Raise Your Spirit
Higher. On the track, they urge their grandfather to be strong and not worry,
because their grandmother is in a better and happier place.

Eternally optimistic, Shabalala is confident that his perseverance in the face
of personal tragedy is a powerful sign for the world to heed: “When the world
looks at you and finds the tears in your eyes, but you smile in spite of the
tears, then they discover that, ‘Oh, he’s right when he says you must be strong,
because many things have happened to him, and he still carries on with the
spirit of the music
.’”

Raise Your Spirit Higher -Wenyukela is the latest recording in the Heads
Up Africa series, celebrating cross-cultural exchange between Africa and America.

Ladysmith Black
Mambazo: Tour Schedule

 

02/06/2004, Fri

Cambridge, MA


Sanders Theatre

02/07/2004, Sat

Lebanon, NH


Lebanon Opera House

02/09/2004, Mon

Vienna, VA

The Barns at Wolf Trap

02/10/2004, Tue

Vienna, VA

The Barns @ Wolf Trap

02/12/2004, Thu

Grand Rapids, MI


Calvin College Fine Arts Center

02/13/2004, Fri

Akron, OH


Akron Civic Center

02/14/2004, Sat

Batavia, IL


Fermilab Arts Series

02/15/2004, Sun

St Louis, MO


Sheldon Concert Hall

02/16/2004, Mon

Madison, WI


Oscar Meyer Theatre

02/17/2004, Tue

Minneapolis, MN


Ted Mann Concert Hall

02/19/2004, Thu

Toronto, ON


Massey Hall

02/20/2004, Fri

Purchase, NY

SUNY / Purchase Arts Center

02/21/2004, Sat

Poughkeepsie, NY


Bardavon Opera House

02/22/2004, Sun

Troy, NY


Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

02/23/2004, Mon

Ottawa, ON

Ottawa Jazz Fest

02/25/2004, Wed

Annapolis, MD

Maryland Hall

02/26/2004, Thu

Storrs, CT


Jorgensen Center

02/27/2004, Fri

Long Branch, NJ

Pollack Theatre

02/28/2004, Sat

Glenside, PA


Keswick Theatre

03/01/2004, Mon

Greenville, NC


Wright Auditorium

03/02/2004, Tue

Durham, NC


Carolina Theatre

03/04/2004, Thu

Ashville, NC


The Orange Peel

03/05/2004, Fri

Cleveland, OH


Cleveland Museum of Art

03/06/2004, Sat

Nelsonville, Ohio


The Stuart Opera House

[Photo by R. Hoffman].

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