Ladysmith Black Mambazo brings world music to city

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Beautiful songs of peace, love and harmony combined with traditional Zulu dancing will allow Pittsburgers to experience beautiful South Africa when Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Grammy Award winning A Cappella group graces Pittsburgh’s Byham Theater stage, January 29, as part of it’s 2014 “Always With Us” U.S. Tour.

The group will be performing in the Steel City as part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was assembled in the early 1960’s in South Africa by a young farm boy-turned factory worker, Joseph Shabalala. The group’s unique name is a combination of Shabalala hometown, Black refers to oxen, the strongest of all farm animals in the Motherland and Mambazo is the Zulu word for axe, a symbol of the group’s uncanny ability to “chop down” any singing rival who might challenge them.

The group has recorded with numerous artists including Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris, Melissa Etheridge and Paul Simon who made the group a household-name and introduced the world to the group’s infectious music on his “Graceland” album.

“Working with Paul Simon was amazing for us,” said Albert Mazibuko, a five-decade Ladysmith Black Mambazo member and cousin of Shabalala. “It opened the gates of the whole world for us. Suddenly millions and millions of people knew who we were and they wanted to hear us sing and see us perform. So amazing!

“It has been almost 30 years since then and we continue to travel the world on concert tours,” Mazibuko continued. “People are still coming to our shows and buying our CD’s. It has been so incredible! Of course it has led us to work with many other people that has introduced our music to many more fans.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is currently celebrating more than 50 years of performing joyful and uplifting music while combining intricate rhythms and harmonies of their homeland. The group has performed at numerous special events including two Nobel Peace Prize Ceremonies, a concert for Pope John Paul II in Rome, the South African Presidential inaugurations, the 1996 Olympics and in 2002 the group performed at London’s celebration for Queen Elizabeth’s 50th anniversary as Monarch.

“Our music is something different and perhaps we continue to keep it fresh and interesting. It’s the voice of South Africa, a voice from Africa and people want to hear that voice,”Mazibuko said. “We hope people will come to our concert to hear our beautiful South African songs and see our traditional Zulu dancing. We promise an evening of great things.”

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