DURANGO, Colo. – Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a dramatic force in World Music, brings its unique blend of South African and Christian gospel music to the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, 7 p.m.
Thrust on the international scene when “discovered” by Paul Simon for his album Graceland, and revered for the stirring sound of bass, alto and tenor harmonies, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is promoting its latest release, Songs From A Zulu Farm (January 2011).
While most of the group’s music has its roots in the slave mines of South Africa, Songs… offers a quieter, more personal past shared by the members – a time of youth and innocence, when the world consisted of nothing more than the hills and open fields of their parents’ farms in Zulu country. Founder and frontman Joseph Shabalala and the other members of the group recreate the idyllic world in which they once lived.
Songs From A Zulu Farm is Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s most personal work to date, and it has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best World Music. The Grammys will be announced on Feb. 12, 2012. This is the group’s sixteenth Grammy nomination.
The heart of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music is called Isicathamiya (Is-Cot-A-Me-Ya). Its history dates to a time when the black workers were taken by rail to slave in the mines far away from their homes and families. Poorly housed and paid, they would entertain themselves, after the six-day work week, by singing songs into the wee hours each Sunday morning. They called themselves Cothoza Mfana, “tip toe guys,” referencing the dance steps choreographed to not disturb the guards.
Assembled in the early 1960s in South Africa by farm boy turned factory worker Joseph Shabalala, the group adopted the name Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Ladysmith, the name of Shabalala’s rural hometown; Black being a reference to oxen; and Mambazo, the Zulu word for axe. Shabalala’s profound embrace of Christianity drove him to take the choral music he heard in church and combine it with the Zulu tradition to create the unique sound.
As noted by Paul Simon, “It isn’t merely the grace and power of their dancing or the beauty of their singing that rivets the attention, but the sheer joy and love that emanates from their being.”
With more than 30 releases, an Oscar and Emmy-nominated documentary film “On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom” and Tony-nominated Broadway musical, The Song of Jacob Zulu, Ladysmith Black Mambazo continues to spread the message of its founder Shabalala: “Peace, Love and Harmony.”
View a sampling of the group’s live performances at http://www.mambazo.com/media-videos.php.
Tickets for Ladysmith Black Mambazo – $39/$49 – are available on-line at www.durangoconcerts.com or by calling 970.247.7657, or at the Ticket Office in Downtown Durango at 7th St. and Main Ave. All sales final.
Showtime is 7 p.m., with doors to the Concert Hall and concessions, serving beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, opening at 6 p.m.
The Community Concert Hall is a not-for-profit, multi-use performance venue located on the campus of Fort Lewis College. Its ability to bring a diverse spectrum of shows to Southwest Colorado is made possible through a partnership with the college, a state-supported, independent institution of higher education, as well as through financial and in-kind contributions from generous members of the community.