CLARKSDALE – Representing the traditional Zulu culture of
South Africa fused with Christian gospel, the Grammy-winning
singing group - Ladysmith Black Mambazo – will be performing
at Coahoma Community College Sunday, January 30, 2011.
The public is invited to attend the free concert in the Pinnacle
at 3:00 p.m. and also an earlier dress rehearsal at 1:00 p.m.
“This is an internationally-acclaimed production we are fortunate
to present here,” says Yvonne Stanford, chairman of Coahoma’s
Lyceum Series committee.
“Joining us as sponsors in making this concert possible are
the Mississippi Festival Association, the Mississippi Arts Commission,
the National Endowment for the Arts, South Arts, the Community
Foundation of Northeast Mississippi, and Title III funding from
the U.S. Department of Education,” she continues.
In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, the group has
recorded 40 albums, sold over six million records after first
being introduced to an international audience through Paul Simon’s
The album won a Grammy as the Best Traditional Folk Album in
1987 and a second Grammy in 2005 for Raise Your Spirit Higher
as Best Traditional World Music. It also has received six additional
The 10-man chorus supposedly was inspired by a dream its leader,
Joseph Shabalala, had in 1964 during the era of apartheid in
which he saw and heard a group of children singing in an incomprehensible
Describing a Mambazo concert that evolved with this “haunting,
ethereal, dreamlike quality,” New York Times writer Neil Strauss
says, “Their seven bass voices and two of its three tenors have
such close harmonics with such subtle nuances that they sounded
like one deep, rich, resonant and proud voice.”
Another New York Times reviewer, Jon Pareles praises Ladysmith’s
Carnegie Hall concert, for their “voices blended like organ
pipes for deep harmonies.” “As the harmonies continued, the
songs led into dance routines with synchronized moves as well
as head-high kicks that are a Zulu tradition; the singers wore
white shoes to show them off,” continues the reviewer.
“Mr. Shabalala (founder of the group), singing above the basses,
has a sweet, hushed tenor that whispers and swoops and quivers,
gentle, yet fervent. In the formality of Carnegie Hall, the
songs came across not as jovial workers’ entertainment, but
as something more somber: music that had survived sorrows to
find benedictions in the aftermath.” At Nelson Mandela’s request,
Mambazo accompanied the future president and then South African
president F. W. de Klerk to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in
Oslo, Norway and then sang again at President Mandela’s inauguration
in May 1994.
They have performed for Queen Elizabeth II of England and the
royal family at the Royal Albert Hall in London, for the pope
in Rome, the 1996 Summer Olympics, a Muhammad Ali television
special and many award shows.
The group has recorded with Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Ben
Harper, The Wynans, and George Clinton, appeared in Michael
Jackson’s video Moonwalker and Spike Lee’s Do It A Cappelia,
and provided soundtrack material for Disney’s The Lion King
Part II, Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America, Marlon Brando’s A
Dry White Season, James Earl Jones’ Cry the Beloved Country
and Sean Connery’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The traditional music sung by Ladysmith was born in the mines
of South Africa in a time of political upheaval where black
workers taken by rail to work far away from their homes and
families entertained themselves after a six-day work week by
singing songs into the early hours every Sunday morning.
They called themselves “tip toe guys,” referring to the light
dance steps choreographed to avoid disturbing camp security
Heads up Africa organizers emphasize that In the past 30 years,
the singers have learned to harness the healing and unifying
power of music as a means to transcend dark places, to raise
spirits higher, and to spread the message of peace, love, and
The group has devoted itself to raising the consciousness of
South African culture and to fund a Music Academy teaching and
preserving indigenous South African music and culture.