"I have been around the world. In these travels I discovered that the Lord is the Light and the Truth. This truth prevails in heaven as well as my home."
— Joseph Shabalala, concerning the song "Uqinisil' Ubada"
Chances are you've heard the sweet harmonies—or else the musical influence—of Ladysmith Black Mambazo at some point, especially with the integration of African music into pop culture over the last twenty years. The acclaimed vocal group is best known for their contributions to Paul Simon's highly acclaimed Graceland album in 1986. Since then, they've recorded with Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, The Corrs, Ben Harper, and have been featured on numerous film soundtracks. In 2000, they teamed with Charlie Peacock for the Roaring Lambs Bob Briner tribute album, recording "'Akehlulek' Ubaba," a song about the fruits of the Spirit.
Joseph Shabalala was a young South African farm boy turned factory worker when he first started the ten–man a cappella group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, in the early 1960s. Ladysmith is the name of his hometown, Black refers to oxen (the strongest work animals on the farm), and Mambazo is the Zulu word for axe, which symbolizes the group's ability to "chop down any singing rival who might challenge them." Indeed, their skills are so strong that they dominated competitions for years—to the point where they were banned from participating. A radio broadcast in 1970 led to Ladysmith's first recording contract, and they've recorded more than forty albums in subsequent years.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo has often been praised for carrying on their native musical traditions and credited as one of the pivotal groups to introduce world music to Western culture, yet too often people ...1
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