This year, RootsTech Connect 2021 is proud to announce that 5-time Grammy Award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo is joining the lineup of keynote speakers. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear this group perform and feel the impact of their story and heritage.
What Is Ladysmith Black Mambazo?
Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a male acapella group that performs in the musical traditions of their South African homelands. The choir is well-known for performing in Zulu styles, highlighting their roots through their rhythms and harmonies.
When Did the Group Form?
The vocal group has been performing now for over 60 years, with their early years dating back to the 1960s. By the end of their first decade, they were so recognized for their talent that they were banned from acapella competitions. They were allowed, of course, to sing instead as professional vocalists. Since then, they’ve only become more successful.
Who Started the Group?
Joseph Shabalala brought the group together and led them to worldwide success. Shabalala started singing in his teen years and performed with them through 2014. Sadly, he passed on in early 2020. He is beloved by his country and today’s members of the group.
Today, Xolani Majozi serves as the group’s manager, and four of Shabalala’s sons currently sing as part of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
What Does “Ladysmith Black Mambazo” Mean?
The name “Ladysmith Black Mambazo” is filled with meaning. “Ladysmith” is the name of the hometown in South Africa of Joseph Shabalala, the group’s founder. “Black” refers to the black ox, for its strength as a farm animal. “Mambazo” comes from the Zulu word for “ax,” providing imagery for the choir’s ability to slice through their competition.
The group feels strongly about what they represent. During their RootsTech Connect Keynote they said, "the mission of Ladysmith Black Mambazo is to spread peace, love, and harmony. So we as a connection, which we need to stick together, and also focus on passing the torch to the generation behind us. It's great, but it's a challenge."
What Are They Known For?
Ladysmith Black Mambazo has touched lives and cultures across the globe with the spirit of their music. They’ve brought South African music to the forefront of pop culture on several occasions, earning them the title of “Cultural Ambassadors of South Africa” from former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Mainstream Culture
The group rose to global prominence after collaborating with Paul Simon on his groundbreaking album Graceland in the 1980s. The album is credited for opening the doors to mainstream acceptance in the music world and the group’s later success.
Since then, they have been featured in box office films, appeared on Broadway, and performed with top entertainers such as Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton. You might recognize their work in Mean Girls or Lion King 2.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Awards
For their touching, spiritual, and memorable music, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has won 5 Grammy Awards. In all, the group has been nominated 17 times. Drama Desk Awards and a Tony nomination are among their other awards.
Don’t Miss Ladysmith Black Mambazo at RootsTech Connect 2021
At RootsTech Connect 2021, Ladysmith Black Mambazo brought their story and their talents to RootsTech Connect. You'll want to give it a listen; through them, you’ll be able to gain a better appreciation for world music, culture, and heritage.