Ladysmith Black Mambazo to perform Tuesday in Grass Valley |

Ladysmith Black Mambazo to perform Tuesday in Grass Valley

Submitted to The Union


WHAT: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

WHEN: Tuesday, doors 6:30 p.m. Show 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Foothills Event Center, 400 Idaho Maryland Road, Grass Valley,

WHO: Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South Africa)

ADMISSION: $40-$50 members, $45 - $55 regular

MORE INFO: 530-274-8384

Formed by Joseph Shabalala, South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been singing songs of peace since the early 1960s. Shabalala took the name “Ladysmith” from his hometown, which lies in the province of kwaZulu Natal, halfway between the city of Durban (where members of the group live today) and Johannesburg. The word “Black” being a reference to the oxen, the strongest of all farm animals, Joseph’s way of honoring his early life on his family’s farm. “Mambazo” is the Zulu word for chopping axe, a symbol of the group’s vocal strength, clearing the way for their music and eventual success.

A radio broadcast in 1970 opened the door to their first record contract – the beginning of an ambitious discography that currently includes more than sixty albums. Their philosophy in the studio was and continues to be just as much about the preservation of musical heritage as it is about entertainment. The group borrows heavily from a traditional music called “isicathamiya” (is-cot-a-ME-Ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa, where black workers were taken by rail to work far away from their homes and their families. Poorly housed and paid worse, the mine workers would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the wee hours on Sunday morning. When the miners returned to the homelands, this musical tradition returned with them.

During the 1970s and early 1980s Ladysmith Black Mambazo established themselves as the most successful singing group in South Africa. In the mid-1980s, the American singer/songwriter Paul Simon famously visited South Africa and incorporated the group’s rich tenor/alto/bass harmonies into his famous Graceland album – a landmark recording that was considered seminal in introducing world music to mainstream audiences.

A favorite of the late great Nelson Mandela, Ladysmith Black Mambazo traveled with the future South African president, at his request, when he went to Oslo, Norway, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. One year later they were singing at the inauguration of the newly elected president. After many more special appearances with the South African icon, Mandela proclaimed the group South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the World.

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In 2014 founder, Joseph Shabalala, retired after over fifty years of leading his group. Joseph passed the leadership torch to his sons Thulani, Sibongiseni, Thamsanqa Shabalala, all who joined Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 1993. Joseph’s sons will carry the group into the future for decades to come.

The Center for the Arts OnTheGo presents Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Tuesday, Feb.18, at the Foothills Event Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m show. Tickets are available online at, at the box office located in the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, and at Briarpatch Co-op.

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