Just before the performance and Bob’s interview with the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo started in Sirius XM’s performance studio a few weeks ago, our engineer asked group leader and founder Joseph Shabalala to give us a few bars of music for a sound check. The group effortlessly broke into Homeless, a track off Paul Simon’s 1986 album Graceland. That was all it took for everyone in our studio to realize that our job was done; this group sounded so good all we had to do was sit back, record the magic, and feel extremely lucky to be there.
Created in the 1960s after Shabalala literally dreamed the group’s unique sound, Ladysmith Black Mambazo (named for Shabalala’s hometown in South Africa) has become a symbol of South African strength and creativity. The group sang at Nelson Mandela’s Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in 1993 and at his inauguration a year later. They have collaborated with Paul Simon, Josh Groban, Zap Mama, Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris and many other musicians. Thus far in their career, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has three Grammys and 12 nominations to their credit. Their most recent album Songs From a Zulu Farm is part of a trilogy of albums celebrating traditional songs from their own history; the next two albums should be released later this year.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo is starting their tour of the UK in May, having finished their U.S. tour in March. For a complete list of dates and cities, go here.