January 13, 2020 | UHCL Staff
Multi-Grammy award-winning South African vocalists Ladysmith Black Mambazo will share their musical message of peace and love at the University of Houston-Clear Lake's Bayou Theater Thursday, Jan. 23, at 7:30 p.m. The group first stepped onto the world stage when they collaborated with music legend Paul Simon on his iconic album "Graceland.'
"The group was founded 60 years ago by Joseph Shabalala, who retired in 2014 and then handed leadership to his four sons, who have been in the group since 1993," said Mitch Goldstein, the group's manager and producer. "They've become the world's most successful entertainment group from South Africa."
Back in 1986, Paul Simon was interested in recording an album inspired by South African music. Their combined effort catapulted Ladysmith Black Mambazo into the international spotlight. Nelson Mandela was listening to the group's songs of peace and love, while in prison. After his release, Mandela not only insisted the group join him at his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in 1993, but also anointed the group South Africa's cultural ambassadors to the world.
The group's message of peace and love is deeply important to the group members. "They've been sought out to collaborate with performers across all genres, including Dolly Parton, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris and Josh Groban,' Goldstein said.
"Joseph named the group 'Ladysmith' for the town he was living in," Goldstein said. "He wanted people to know where he was from. 'Black' is not for the color of their skin, but for the black ox, which Joseph considered to be the most powerful animal on the farm where he was raised. He chose the word to represent the group's strength."
And "Mambazo," continued Goldstein, is a Zulu word. "It means 'chopping ax,' because their voices were so strong, it's like chopping with an ax."
The group tours seven months of the year and they have more Grammys than any other world music group. "Part of the reason for the success they've been able to enjoy is not just because of their singing, but because they offer a meaningful experience for the audience," he said. "There's a deeper experience. It's very emotional and powerful. There's a message that they thread through their albums as well as their shows."
Their performances help the audience connect to South African singing and dancing, but Goldstein said their concert was more than that. "Their message of love and peace comes from deep in their hearts," he said. "Their concerts are about coming together and getting along, regardless of differences. It's a powerful message to which people can connect."
Visit Bayou Theater tickets online to find out more information about tickets.