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Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was founded by Joseph Shabalala in 1974. They've cut well over 30 albums since, but the group did not become well known outside of South Africa until Paul Simon asked them to perform on Graceland. Shabalala was born into a poor family that lived on a white man's farm near the town of Ladysmith. There were eight children in the Shabalala family, and, as the oldest boy, it was Joseph's duty to take care of the family after his father died.

Shabalala's first musical experience, save for a bit of fooling around on the guitar, came with a choral group called the Blacks. Shabalala eventually took over leadership of the group and became its main composer. The Blacks won most of the local vocal competitions and became the most popular Zulu vocal group, but Shabalala felt that something was missing. "I had been hearing a voice inside me," Shabalala said. "I didn't know it, but it was the voice of God." When the voice told him to fast, Shabalala obeyed, and on his fast, he had a vision of a new kind of vocal music. Shortly thereafter he became a Christian. Taking the choral music he heard in the Christian church, he combined it with the Zulu tradition to create his own style.

When the Blacks refused to take part in Shabalala's experiments, he formed Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The group consists of seven bass voices, an alto, a tenor, and Shabalala singing lead. The combo immediately began releasing albums at a staggering rate, offering a massive catalog of vocal music. Even if you don't speak Zulu, when they hit a low rumbling note, you can literally feel the power of their voices in your body.

"In Zulu singing there are three major sounds," Shabalala explains. "A high keening ululation; a grunting, puffing sound that we make when we stomp our feet; and a certain way of singing melody. Before Black Mambazo you didn't hear these three sounds in the same songs. So it is new to combine them, although it is still done in a traditional style. We are just asking God to allow us to polish it, to help keep our voices in order so we can praise Him and uplift the people."

The group has had an extremely prolific recording career, having released over 50 albums and collections, beginning with their debut, Amabutho, on Gallo Records in 1973. In 1988 Ladymith signed with Warner Bros. and issued a pair of albums, Journey of Dreams in 1988 and Two Worlds One Heart in 1990. A couple of best-of samplers appeared on Shanachie in 1992. The group switched back to Gallo for a series of 1990s releases, then moved to Wrasse for several albums, including 2000's In Harmony. No Boundaries, which featured the English Chamber Orchestra, appeared on Headsup Records in 2005, followed by a second album from the label, Long Walk to Freedom, in 2006. In 2007 Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu was issued in South Africa with an American edition following in 2008. ~ j. poet, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

thank you King Jesus for you are so worthy of all praises I here this mellow think of Songs of Songs
I'm from Africa so this music really speaks to me..... it's just amazing!!!
Theme song to Coming to America
Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a group that has been opening hearts & stirring souls for their whole career!!! I'm so grateful to our Heavenly Father for blessing them with their incredible talent, and for blessing the rest of us to know and love their wonderful music!!!
❤️
Very good song. ....love it.
ruchiewo01
I love Paul Simon and his friend Art .......but the bio ought to be about this great group only. In writing Paul and Art bio, it will be improper to highlight who brought them to limelight. Doing same to this Great Africans is nothing but fair and proper. Guys update this bio.
I love the music man... It's so uplifting! :-) I'm literally smiling with all of my heart
Lov it yo
manrudan
Let's thank Paul Simon for introducing us here in the States to this Wonderful , happy, group of South Africans, Ladysmith Black Mambazo!!
The Bio STILL NEEDS TO BE FIXED.
vab_acker
I think it's wonderful that Paul Simon introduced us to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and it should definitely be mentioned in the bio, but by now I think this wonderful group should have a bio that focuses on them and their story. Also, if I click Like this Artist, will I be liking Paul Simon or LBM?
kasukulu18
God bless and keep our Africa safe. We should keep on praising you daily. You are so good
Lovely!
clintdm
Shabalala said. I didn't know it, but it was the voice of God. When the voice told him to fast, Shabalala obeyed, and on his fast, he had a vision of a new kind of vocal music. Shortly thereafter he became a Christian... . . T h a t is cool!
I never knew these were the same people who performed the Alphabet Song with Jim Henson as Kermit on Sesame Street. They're incredible.
Paul Simon's bio appears on this page because it was him who discovered Ladysmith Black Mombazo back in the 70's. His album Graceland so-to-say introduced South African music to the World and gave a jump-start to this wonderful band's global popularity.
oneruler
Why is the Ladysmith Black Mambazo bio showing Paul Simon's bio?
nvtalmad
Why are you showing the Paul Simon bio for Ladysmith Black Mambazo? This is really wrong!
I had the distinct honor of hearing these guys live back in 1995 in Philadelphia at Temple University. It was a small venue so their voices, blended as one, just go straight through to your heart, and then they start to dance. You are transported directly to Africa. They are so humble and kind and you just love them as soon as they start to sing. I'll never forget the experience.
d2shortell
Sigh...yep. Wish there was a 'Hey, you got it wrong' button.
mike02485
Back to the Paul Simon bio. C'mon, guys...
roimowersd
The BIO looks right...so seems someone's efforts were successful! Thanks as I enjoyed reading about these amazing singers ... how beautiful they are....
great group have listened to them for years
omigosh!! how many times do i have to email them?? they said it was a software issue.
superflaming o g i r l
I still see the Paul Simon biography.
shuihouse
I still only see the Paul Simon bio....
Thanks! They sent me an email back within an hour. I was very pleased, Pandora has great customer service. I am very happy that LBM is getting the credit they deserve; such a talented band demands high levels of respect. I hope my African Music professor will be proud of me. :)
Looks like you got their attention, Rae...New bio all about the band's background and style, one mention of Simon in the lead paragraph. Well done. :)
I just sent them an email about this. It is inappropriat e and disrespectfu l to such accomplished and well respected artists as Ladysmith. Everyone should send them an email as well!
celena31
Why has this not been fixed to be about Ladysmith instead of Paul Simon yet?
thecircleism y p a t h
My son and I really enjoyed the (sold out) show last night at Fermilab, good stuff! NGIYABATHAND A LABAFANA!... . . . " I really love these guys!"
rgarudya
This bio is about Paul Simon and not Ladysmith
Bio still inaccurate! I'm sure we are all aware of the excellent collaboratio n s between Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, but this needs to be corrected.
retropat
OMG
The contact for inaccurate album art is pandora-supp o r t @ p a n d o r a . c o m (according to the Help section); I'd assume they would be responsible for fixing the rest of the bio as well.
jhmcg1
yes, the bio is a mistake and who do you contact
to fix? Iam not offended.
ijonile3
LBM, makes me miss south africa! I want to stop at ladysmith on the way to durban an have wimpy

The bio is an error no one is being disrespected . Dont be too touchy
stevebenathe n
I have to agree with everyone else. Their collaboratio n is not mentioned. I think the LBM station is great and I'm glad I freely stream their music on Pandora but this bio slip is offensive.
...and as a kicker, the Paul Simon bio fails to even mention his collaboratio n with LBM. To your credit, Pandora, this is the first such error i have EVER come across.
evangelync
Why is Paul Simon the "bio" info listed for Ladysmith? I appreciate and enjoy Paul Simon but this is just disrespectfu l . Please fix!
rademitchell
I was just thinking the same way. Ladysmith existed without him for a long time. That's just disrespectfu l not to include any information about them.
Umm please show the members and fans of Ladysmith Black Mambazo some respect Pandora and please fix this. Paul Simon's bio shouldn't even be affiliated with them in any way.
lucycaboosie
I first heard this group in the early 1980s and have been in love with them ever since!!!
u can call me al
saltygoat
I always spin their "Greatest Hits" when in need of some grounding: their pure, simple, and direct approach is a single-finge r touch to whatever stress I am under. In addition, Pandora could provide more of Ayub Ogada, too!
Just incredible !
I like this song a ton and didn't know about it but because I was listening to a Paul Simon song then this one played so honestly because of one artist I discovered another one and will be getting some of this music now :o)
Replace Simon's pic and bio with those of LBM. What are you, ashamed of them? This listing is absurd and inappropriat e not to mention in the worst of taste!!
I concur with it being insulting that Paul Simon's picture and bio is listed here, as if LBM were a "subsidiary" of his. I think he would be pissed off if he were aware of this. Is he? Are they?
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