Tag Archives: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Artist Profiles: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Headed by charismatic founder/composer Joseph Shabalala, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is Africa’s number one selling recording group. The name of the group comes from the city where the group comes from, Ladysmith, the black ox and mambazo, the Zulu word for ax.

With over 40 releases since their first recording in 1962, Mambazo’s captivating Zulu harmonies are a proud, strong homage to the jubilance, power and beauty of indigenous music.

Joseph Shabalala is a man that carries on developing his dreams. He has enlisted the talents of four of his sons the next Mambazo generation. Joseph’s ambition is now to establish the first Academy for the teaching and preservation of indigenous South African music and culture in South Africa.

Since the cooperation on the Graceland album – more than 14 million copies sold – with Paul Simon and their hit title “Homeless,” Mambazo have been known all over the world. The group has recorded over forty albums, selling over six million records at home and abroad, establishing them as the number one record selling group from Africa.

Their first album release for the United States, Shaka Zulu, won a Grammy Award in 1987. Since then they have been nominated for a Grammy Award six additional times, including a nomination in 2001 for the album Live From Royal Albert Hall.

The group has performed at two Nobel Peace Prize Ceremonies, for the Pope in Rome, South African Presidential inaugurations, the 1996 Summer Olympics, a Muhammad Ali television special and in the summer of 2002 at a celebration for Queen Elizabeth II’. Dubbed “The Party at the Palace,” Ladysmith Black Mambazo joined with Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Phil Collins and Paul McCartney on McCartney’s song’s “Hey Jude” and “All You Need Is Love.”

The music sung by Ladysmith Black Mambazo is called isicathamiya. In the mines of South Africa, black workers would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the night, and choreographing dance steps on “tip toe” so as not to disturb the camp security guards. When the miners returned to the homelands, the tradition returned with them. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is by far the most famous of the South African isicathamiya groups.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

While the group’s 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 1960s. 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.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Joseph Shabalala – Photo by R. Hoffman

Shabalala’s spirituality underwent the supreme test during the making of Raise Your Spirit Higher -Wenyukela. 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.”

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.”

Ladysmith is regarded as a national treasure of the new South Africa in part because they embody the traditions suppressed in the old South Africa.

Line-up: Joseph Shabalala -lead vocals; Albert Mazibuko – vocals; Sibongiseni Shabalala – vocals; Thamsanqa Shabalala – vocals; Thulani Shabalala – vocals; Msizi Shabalala – vocals; Jockey Shabalala – vocals; Abednego Mazibuko – vocals; Russel Mthembu – vocals; and Jabulani Dubazana – vocals.

Jockey Shabalala died in 2006.


Amabutho (Gallo Record Company, 1973)
Imbongi (Gallo Record Company, 1973)
Ufakazi Yibheshu featuring Empangeni Home Tigers (Gallo Record Company, 1973)
Umama Lo! (Gallo Record Company, 1974)
Isitimela (Gallo Record Company, 1974)
Ukukhanya Kwelanga (Gallo Record Company, 1975)
Amaqhawe (Gallo Record Company, 1976)
Ukusindiswa (Gallo Record Company, 1977)
Shintsha Sithothobala (Gallo Record Company, 1977)
Phezulu Emafini (Gallo Record Company, 1977)
Ushaka (Gallo Record Company, 1978)
Indlela yaseZulwini (Gallo Record Company, 1978)
Ezinkulu (Gallo Record Company, 1979)
Intokozo (Gallo Record Company, 1980)
Nqonqotha Mfana (Gallo Record Company, 1980)
Ulwandle Oluncgwele (Gallo Record Company, 1981)
Cologne Zulu Festival (Gallo Record Company, 1981)
Phansi Emgodini (Gallo Record Company, 1981)
Umthombo Wamanzi (Gallo Record Company, 1982)
Induku Zethu (Gallo Record Company, 1983)
Ibhayibheli Liyindlela (Gallo Record Company, 1984)
Inkazimulo (Gallo Record Company, 1985)
Inala (Gallo Record Company, 1985)
Ezulwini Siyakhona (Gallo Record Company, 1986)
Shaka Zulu Warner Bros (1-25582) 1987)
Thandani (Gallo Record Company, 1987)
Zibuyinhlazane (Gallo Record Company, 1988)
Journey of Dreams (Warner Bros Records, 1988)
Isigqi Zendoda (Gallo Record Company, 1990)
Two Worlds, One Heart (Warner Bros Records, 1990)
Favourites (Gallo Record Company, 1992)
Classic Tracks Shanachie Records 1992)
The Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Vol 1 (Shanachie Records, 1992)
Liph’ Iqiniso (Gallo Record Company, 1993)
Gift Of The Tortoise (Gallo Record Company, 1994)
Zulu Hits Vol. 1 (Gallo Record Company, 1995)
Gospel Hits Vol. 2 (Gallo Record Company, 1995)
Shosholoza with the Team Shosholoza (Gallo Record Company, 1995)
Thuthukani Ngoxolo (Gallo Record Company, 1996)
Ukuzala-Ukuzelula with the Mahubo Nesigekle Ladies Choir (Gallo Record Company, 1995)
Heavenly (Gallo Record Company, 1997)
The Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo – The Star and the Wiseman (Gallo Record Company, 1998)
Gospel Songs (Wrasse, 2000)
In Harmony (Wrasse/UMTV, 1999)
Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Shanachie Records, 1999)
In Harmony – Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Wrasse/UMTV, 1999)
Lihl’ Ixhiba Likagogo (Gallo Record Company, 2000)
Wenyukela (Gallo Record Company, 2003)
Raise Your Spirit Higher – Wenyukela (Heads Up International/Gallo, 2004)
No Boundaries, with the English Chamber Orchestra (Heads Up International/Gallo, 2004)
Live at Montreux (Eagle Records, 2005)
Long Walk to Freedom (Heads Up International/Gallo, 2006)
The Hits (Gallo Record Company, 2006)
Ilembe (Gallo Record Company/Warner Jazz, 2007), also released as Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu (Heads Up International, 2008)
My Dream – African Sounds, with the SABC Choir (Gallo Record Company, 2008)
Kobuye Kulunge (Gallo Record Company, 2010)
Songs From A Zulu Farm (Listen 2 Entertainment, 2011)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Friends (Listen 2 Entertainment, 2012)
Live: Singing For Peace Around The World (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 2013)
Always With Us (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 2014)
Music from Inala: a Zulu Ballet (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 2014)
Walking in the Footsteps of Our Fathers (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 2016)
Shaka Zulu Revisited (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 2017)
Songs of Peace and Love for Kids and Parents Around the World (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 2017)


Ladysmith Black Mambazo – In Harmony: Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Shanachie, 1999)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – On Tip Toe (New Video Group, 2004)

Live at Montreux (Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2005)


Ladysmith Black Mambazo Wins the Best World Music Album at 60th Grammy Awards

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration

Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration by South African ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo is the winner of the Best World Music Album at the 60th Grammy Awards.

The other finalists were:

Memoria De Los Sentidos by Vicente Amigo
Para Mi by Buika
Rosa Dos Ventos by Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro
Elwan by Tinariwen

Buy Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration


Recording Academy Announces 60th Annual Grammy Awards Nominees for Best World Music Album

Vicente Amigo – Memoria De Los Sentidos

Last evening, the Recording Academy announced the recordings nominated for Best World Music Album. This category includes albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal or instrumental world music recordings.

Best World Music Album Nominees

Memoria De Los Sentidos by Vicente Amigo
Para Mi by Buika
Rosa Dos Ventos by Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro
Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration by Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Elwan by Tinariwen

The GRAMMY Awards will be presented on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, live from Madison Square Garden in New York City and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 7:30 – 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time / 4:30 – 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time.


The Recording Academy Announces 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees for Best World Music Album

The Recording Academy announced today the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards nominees for Best World Music Album:

Destiny by Celtic Woman (Manhattan Records)


Celtic Woman – Destiny


Walking In The Footsteps Of Our Fathers by Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Ladysmith Black Mambazo)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Walking In The Footsteps Of Our Fathers


Sing Me Home by Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble (Masterworks)

The Silk Road Ensemble – Sing Me Home


Land Of Gold by Anoushka Shankar (Deutsche Grammophon)

Anoushka Shankar – Land Of Gold


Dois Amigos, Um Século De Música: Multishow Live by Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil (Nonesuch)

Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil – Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live


New Ladysmith Black Mambazo Album and US Tour in 2006

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Long Walk to Freedom

Heads Up International has announced its first release of 2006, Long Walk to Freedom. In 1986, Paul Simon introduced the musical genius and boundless spiritual energy of Ladysmith Black Mambazo to the world via his groundbreaking recording, Graceland. In recognition of the 20th anniversary of their ascendancy to the world stage and the dawning of democracy in South Africa 12 years ago, the Grammy-winning vocal group will release Long Walk to Freedom on Heads Up on January 24.

The album features 12 new recordings of classic Ladysmith Black Mambazo songs — including “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes,” “Homeless,” and their first big hit “Nomathemba” — with guest performances by Melissa Etheridge, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, Zap Mama, Joe McBride, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and many others. Also appearing are a virtual who’s who of South African artists: Lucky Dube, Bhekumunzi Luthlui, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela, and more.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo 2006 US tour dates:

2/2 Manchester, MA
2/3 Brunswick, ME
2/4 Troy, NY
2/5 Peekskill, NY
2/7 Bethlehem, PA
2/9 North Bethesda, MD
2/10 Greenvale, NY
2/11 Cambridge, MA
2/12 Keene, NH
2/14 Annapolis, MA
2/15 Pomona, NJ
2/17 Princeton, NJ
2/18 Newark, NJ
2/19 Philadelphia, PA
2/21 Wilmington, NC
2/22 – 23 Durham, NC
2/25 Atlanta, GA
2/28 Madison, WI
3/1 Platteville, WI
3/4 Iowa City, IA
3/6 Duluth, MN
3/7 Grand Rapids, MI
3/9 Winona, MN
3/10 Fairmont. MN
3/11 Rochester, MN
3/12 Detroit Lakes, MN
3/15 Holland, MI
3/17 Paducah, KY
3/18 St. Louis, MO
3/19 – 20 Memphis, TN
3/22 – 23 Saratoga, CA
3/24 Arcata, CA
3/25 Eugene, OR
3/26 Klamath Falls, OR
3/28 & 4/1 Sebastopol, CA
3/29 Davis, CA
3/30 Berkeley, CA
4/5 Riverside, CA
4/6 Santa Barbara, CA
4/7 Pasadena, CA
4/8 Costa Mesa, CA
4/9 Flagstaff, AZ
4/11 Dallas, TX
4/12 Austin, TX


Fear Not The Smooth

Various Artists – Smooth Africa II: Exploring the Soul
Various Artists

Smooth Africa II: Exploring the Soul (Heads Up HUCD 3077, 2003)

Yeah, I know. An album with “smooth” in the title fills your head with unspeakably horrible thoughts of lite jazz blandness or adult contemporary syrup that’s sure to induce nausea. But this is Africa we’re talking about, not middle America. Lo and behold, this is actually a very good selection of African jazz and pop artists ideal for fending off the very same mediocrity that “smooth” is often a code word for in the first place. Don’t get me(or the title) wrong- this is smooth stuff, but in the best sense of the word.

Concentrating on the southern part of the continent, the disc features big names like Ladysmith Black Mambazo (uncharacteristically singing with instrumental backing) and Oliver Mtukudzi pitching in with the kind of strong material that’s earned them international status. But just as good are the less immediately recognizable names (Allou April, Prince Kupi, Gloria Bosman) and even a couple of American artists (Andy Narell, Spyro Gyra) who’ve been embraced on the African scene.

It’s a well-balanced collection, positioning the Afro-jazz-pop work of Joe McBride and Jimmy Dludu alongside Mtukudzi’s swaying melancholy and a breezy electronic stomper by Shaluza Max.

Narell’s steel pan track reinforces the strong ties between Africa and the Caribbean, and though Spyro Gyra’s closing “Cape Town Love” does seem to be riding the coattails a bit, it’s a pleasant tune that keeps the mellow but unmistakably alive mood. A solid compilation well worth owning, Smooth Africa II overcomes its misleading title hands down. I missed out on the first Smooth Africa that this is apparently a sequel to, but if it’s anything like this it must be worthwhile too.

Buy Smooth Africa II