Musical Founder Of Ladysmith Black Mamboza, Dies at 78.


There are numerous musical groups across Africa founded by different people for various reasons. However, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is an exceptional musical group in South Africa because it portrays South African Heritage. Also, Lady Smith Black Mamboza has been described by Nelson Mandela as South Africa Cultural Ambassador. This musical group has been nominated 19 times and has won five Grammy awards. Moreso, this Grammy award-winning musical group was founded by Joseph Shabalala in 1960. Shabalala founded this group at a tender age of 18 and passed on on February 11, 2020, after a brief illness. His death occurred on a day when the nation was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the prison release of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was an anti-apartheid hero and a fan of the musical group.

Background Story Of The Musical Group

Shabalala was born on August 28, 1941, into the family of sharecroppers and traditional healers. At Uthukela (Roosboom) in the district of  Ladysmith, northern KwaZulu-Natal. He grew up to be a man of strong religious belief and was blessed with a gift for songs. Hence, when he discovered that music was his calling, he began to sing. Moreso, he used his voice and majestic harmonies of his group to spread the message of goodwill in the world.

The Ladysmith Black Mambazo created by Joseph Shabalala is an all-male acapella music group. Moreso, Shabalala’s aim was to use music as a vehicle to unite South Africans during the apartheid. In their traditional Zulu performance known as Isicathamiya the musical group continues to fascinate their audience. However, with their soulful choral and performance style, the group gained international prominence. This prominence was made possible in 1986 after the musical group worked with Paul Simon an American singer and songwriter. However, Shabalala did not just become famous out of the blues, he has a story about his little beginning. His upbringing was difficult in a rural community with no formal education as a black man on a white man’s property during the apartheid era. According to sowetanlive

The Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Musical Group

One could be wondering as to what the name of the group means and the story behind such a name. First, the name of the group is symbolic in that Ladysmith was the name of the farming village Shabalala lived. Also, Black represented the black oxen that were the strongest on the farm and Mambazo in Zulu means “axe”. Axe symbolizes their ability to cut down competition and indeed they cut down competitions until they were asked to stop performing during local competitions.

In creating a musical group Shabalala recruited several relatives to join the ensemble. And in 1970 the group had its first record contract after a radio broadcast. While the musical group later released its Album called Amabutho. This Album Amabutho was the first African album to reach gold record status with 25,000 sold. Furthermore, Ladysmith Black Mambazo won its first Grammy-award in 1987, in the best folk recording category for the album named Shaka Zulu. However, this was after it gained worldwide recognition in 1986 from its collaboration with Paul Simon. Paul Simon Graceland won him a Grammy award as one of the best selling albums of 1980. According to britannica


There was one thing that got him to the global superstardom and that is His Dreams. His dreams and hard work delivered him from his from being reduced to a life of poverty.


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