Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the V&A Waterfront

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

There's something soothing about the deep bass voices of a group of singing black men. I think it's completely unlike what any of their white counterparts could do. If you're not from Africa (or are, but haven't heard it before) then it's something that you should certainly experience. I didn't even understand the words that were being sung, but in some ways I think that's a good thing - it prevents you from being distracted by the words, and helps you to feel the music and perhaps the meaning of the words.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LSBM) and their style of music has its origin in the mines of South Africa. Joseph Shabalala (here's a photo of him), leader of the Grammy-Award-winning group, assembled the members of LSBM from family, relatives and friends in his hometown of Ladysmith. The group quickly rose to fame by winning every singing competition they entered.

The group's name is made up of one place-name and two concepts: Ladysmith is their home town, Black refers to the strong black oxen that were prevalent in their farming community, and Mambazo means axe. In other words - the singing group from Ladysmith that is so strong that it cuts down every other group in every competition. :) Voila! Ladysmith Black Mambazo!

An interesting fact that you may not be aware of is that LSBM co-wrote and recorded two tracks on Paul Simon's Graceland album in 1986. Do any songs come to mind? Of course they do! Possibly the first one you may think of is Homeless; the other is Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.

LSBM will be singing at the V&A Waterfront again on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 January at 20h30 (see my photos from the event here). If you haven't seen them before, go along and prepare to relax to the sound of deep, dark African voices. (You can buy tickets online or at the little Computicket caravan near the Aquarium's entrance.)

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