South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo was founded in the early 1960s by Joseph Shabalala. In naming his vocal group, Joseph used his hometown’s name, Ladysmith, to honor his family’s history, he added the word Black referencing black oxen, the strongest of all farm animals, and Mambazo is the Zulu word for chopping ax, a symbol of the group’s vocal ability to clear the path to success. The group sings from a traditional music called isicathamiya (is-cot-a-ME-Ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa.
During the 1970s, Ladysmith Black Mambazo established themselves as the most successful singing group in South Africa — the beginning of an ambitious recording career that currently includes more than seventy albums, earning 19 Grammy Award nominations and five Grammy Award wins. In the mid-1980s, American singer/songwriter Paul Simon visited South Africa and incorporated the group’s rich harmonies into his album Graceland — a landmark recording that's considered seminal in introducing world music to mainstream audiences.
In addition to their work with Paul Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has recorded with Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, Emmylou Harris, Melissa Etheridge, and many others. They have appeared on Broadway where they were nominated for a Tony Award and their documentary film On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom, the Story of Ladysmith Black Mambazo was nominated for an Academy Award.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo carries a message of peace, love and harmony as they travel the world. They continue to warm hearts across the globe with their uplifting vocal harmonies, signature dance moves and charming onstage banter.
"Undulating rhythmic phrases that push and pull … harmonising that is both ethereal and earthy." —World Music, UK