Ladysmith Black Mambazo to perform in Juneau March 17

Grammy award-winning world music icons Ladysmith Black Mambazo will perform on Sunday, March 17, at 3 p.m. at the JDHS auditorium as part of this year’s Juneau Arts & Humanities Council concert series. The show is sold out, but those who really want to see the show are encouraged to come to the high school at 2 p.m. to see if there have been any last-minute tickets released by the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council.

Led by founder and front man Joseph Shabalala, the a cappella vocal group blends the rhythms and harmonies of their native South African musical traditions with the sounds of Christian gospel music. The group is best known for their work on Paul Simon’s album “Graceland.” but they have recorded with many artists from around the world, including Stevie Wonder, Josh Groban, Dolly Parton, Ben Harper and many others.

Assembled in the early 1960s by Shabalala, the group took the name Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Ladysmith being the name of Shabalala’s rural hometown; Black being a reference to oxen, the strongest of all farm animals; and Mambazo being the Zulu word for axe, a symbol of the group’s ability to “chop down” any singing rival who might challenge them.

A radio broadcast in 1970 opened the door to their first record contract. In the mid-1980s, Paul Simon visited South Africa and incorporated Black Mambazo’s harmonies into his “Graceland” album – a landmark 1986 recording that was considered seminal in introducing world music to mainstream audiences.

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