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Ladysmith Black Mambazo: When Dreams Come True!

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Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a South Africa a cappella chorus that sings mbube and isicathamiya music. By the 60’s a singer called Joseph Shabalala had a dream. He saw a choir of people dancing while singing. In 1974, this dream finally came true when he established Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Composed of relatives and friends, Ladysmith Black Mambazo started participating in singing contests and at the same time they had a very important mission that was to teach other people about South Africa and its culture.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was, since their begginings, one of the most important representatives of a musical tradition in South Africa known as isicathamiya. However, they have their own style. A style that combines elements of Zulu tradition with choral music characteristic of Christian churches. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is composed of a lead singer, who is Shabala, seven bass voices, a tenor and an alto. Their discography is huge and includes many albums and radio recordings.

Their first album was released in 1973 and went gold for sales. The album Amabutho was the first album of a South African black artist to win that recognition. However, their first religious album was released three years later: Ukukhanya Kwelanga. Although the group had already gone on tours to different parts of the world, their worldwide recognition and fame was achieved once they participated with Paul Simon on the album Graceland. In 1991, the light of this achievement was turned off when Headman Shabalala was shot, apparently in a racial killing.

In spite of this terrible experience, they overcame the pain and released the album Liph’ Iqiniso in 1993. A whole new era was starting. The Apartheid was ended; the first black president of South Africa was elected. That was without a doubt a new decade. There is also a foundation of the group which aims to teach about South Africa and its culture. 8 awards, 18 nominations and more than 80 recordings are the support of a band that was born from a dream.

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