||The Heinz advert has made Ladysmith Black Mambazo a household name. With more than 1,000,000 albums being sold in the UK in the last 12 months, the album “The Star and the Wiseman” was in the top 20 selling albums of last year in the UK.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, headed by charismatic founder/composer Joseph Shabalala, is Africa’s number one selling recording group. With nearly 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.
Now 59, Joseph initially realised his gift for songwriting in 1964. “I had a dream”, he recalls, “I heard these beautiful sounds of people singing. The dream persisted for six months and I listened until I learnt to imitate all of the voices. Then I could compose.”
The music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with its complex vocal harmonies, is known as “isicathamiya” or “mbube”. The latter translates as bombing, referring to the way the lead vocal works through the choruses. “isicathamiya” means tiptoe men and refers to the quiet dance, which accompanies the songs. These dances originate from the times when the men left their villages to work in the goldmines and factories. Initially, they would accompany their traditional songs with a stomping dance. However, because of the noise, they were banned. Hence the tiptoe dance.
The group's name holds their own history and rise to legendary status. "Ladysmith" is the hometown of the Shabalala family; "black" refers to black oxen, considered the strongest on the farm; and "Mambazo" is the Zulu word for axe, symbolic of their ability to chop down their competition.
Since their humble beginnings in a rural farming community, this closeknit group of talented singers has come to embody black traditions suppressed under apartheid. Mambazo first stepped into the international spotlight in 1986 when featured on Paul Simon's “Graceland” recording, the groundbreaking release which fused traditional sounds of black South African music to western pop. Though Ladysmith Black Mambazo's music is rooted in contemporary South African culture they also sing in English, French, Zulu and various African dialects.
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO - ON TOUR
Wednesday 10 Llandudno North Wales Theatre
Friday 12 Birmingham Symphony Hall
Saturday 13 Poole Arts Centre
Sunday 14 Oxford Apollo
Monday 15 Reading Hexagon
Tuesday 16 Bristol Colston Hall
Wednesday 17 Cardiff St. David's Hall
Friday 19 Canterbury Marlowe Theatre
Saturday 20 Northampton Derngate
Sunday 21 Norwich Theatre Royal
Tuesday 23 London Royal Festival Hall
Wednesday 24 Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Thursday 25 Cambridge Corn Exchange
Friday 26 York Barbican Centre
Sunday 28 Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Monday 29 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Tuesday 30 Liverpool Philharmonic