Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Poised to Continue Another 50 Years!

This year, Ladysmith Black Mambazo celebrates more than 50 years of making joyous music! The first time I saw them was when they performed on "Saturday Night Live" with Paul Simon many, many years ago.  I joined the World Music/CRASHarts team back in the early 1990s and have had the pleasure of seeing them live now more times than I can count.  They never fail to touch my heart and uplift my spirit.

I have fond memories of watching Joseph working with kids from Cambridge Rindge and Latin school during a very special workshop we sponsored as part of our Sharing the Rhythm program.  He was so kind and gentle with the students, infusing humor and kindness into his lessons.  When the students sang Rain, Rain Beautiful Rain with the group on stage during their annual Sanders Theatre concert, it was simply magical.  And then there was the time that someone broke into the green room and stole one of the group’s duffle bags. All the thief got was a bag full of bright white tennis shoes, but, if you’ve seen Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform, you know who important those white shoes are the group’s high kicks and smooth moves.  I had the onerous job of scouring Harvard Square in the middle of winter for 10 pairs of identical white sneakers. Luckily, I found them on Dunster Street just in time for the performance. 

I was sad and concerned when I learned that Joseph, the group’s ever-present leader, could not perform this year.  (If you missed the February 2nd concert, the group announced that Joseph is recovery from back surgery a little slower than expected, but is due to return to performing soon.) I was worried about how Ladysmith Black Mambazo would sound without Joseph’s beautiful counter tenor voice trilling above the harmonies.  But I was thrilled to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo securely positioned to continue into the future.  They introduced the group’s newest member, Joseph’s grandson, Babuyile Shabalala – the now 3rd generation of Ladysmith Black Mambazo membership.  26-year-old Babuyile added a wonderful voice, a great sense of humor and some serious dance moves.  Now with four Shabalala sons and one grandson on stage, I feel really good about Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s future. 

The new album is out now!
 Ladysmith Black Mambazo album cover

Written by: Marketing Director, Susan Weiler