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Ladysmith Black Mambazo

January 18, 2011

Coahoma Community College Public Relations

Panny Mayfield, director

Grammy winning Ladysmith vocal group to perform free CCC concert January 30, 2011.

Music fuses traditional South African Zulu culture with Christian gospel.


Internationally-acclaimed Ladysmith Black Mambazo singers will be featured in concert Sunday, January 30, 2011 at Coahoma Community College's Pinnacle. The public is invited; admission is free.

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 Graceland recording.

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 Grammy nominations.

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 language.

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 Ladysmit'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 guard.

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 harmony.

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.



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