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FPH Weekly Podcast, #37
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Featured FPH Weekly Podcast, #37
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Home » Music

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Submitted by Editor on January 10, 2024 – 12:22 pmNo Comment

- MIchael Bergeron

When Ladysmith Black Mambazo appears at Fitzgerald’s on January 16 they bring with them over two generations of traditional South African rhythms and voices. A look at their website explains the meaning of their name.  Ladysmith was the rural town where the group’s leader Joseph Shabalala, who formed the group in the 1960s, hails from. Black references the mighty farm animal the oxen, while Mambazo is the Zulu word for axe, “a symbol of the group’s ability to chop down any singing rival who might challenge them.

The group was so successful with their singing style that combined their own vocal harmonies with American Gospel music that they were even banned from competing in song contests. The 70s ushered in record contracts that brought eventual worldwide recognition. At this point Ladysmith Black Mambazo has a discography of over 50 recordings.

Their well known collaboration with Paul Simon on his Graceland LP is only one career highpoint that also includes three Grammy win, soundtrack contributions and recording with a who’s-who of music artists. There’s a documentary on LBM called On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom. A Youtube search turns up their appearance with Simon on Sesame Street singing “African Alphabet.”

Houston is the second stop of the 2024 leg of their tour, with shows including Austin City Limits Live the following week. Their recent effort Songs From a Zulu Farm, nominated for a Grammy award (held in February), busts forth with rich vocals that give new life to old songs. A prime example would be their a cappella take on Old McDonald’s Farm, which takes on a different identity as “Old McDonald … Zulu Style.” On January 10 their latest release Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Friends, a retrospective double disc set, features an international interface of collaborations and duets with a wide array of musical talent from all spectrums of the recording world.

Monday January 16th at Fitzgerald’s www.fitzlivemusic.com

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