On Tuesday, Feb. 11, Saint Mary’s welcomes the most widely known a cappella group in the world back to its stage. The Page Series concludes with a return engagement by the Grammy award-winning South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which first visited Winona in 2006.
Nominated 16 times for Grammy awards, Ladysmith Black Mambazo — led by founder and leader Joseph Shabalala – celebrates over 50 years of joyous and uplifting music that marries the intricate rhythms and harmonies of their native South African musical traditions to the sounds and sentiments of Christian gospel music.
Assembled in the early 1960s in South Africa by Shabalala – then a young farmboy turned factory worker – the group took the name Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Ladysmith was the name of Shabalala’s rural hometown; Black is a reference to oxen, the strongest of all farm animals; and Mambazo is the Zulu word for axe, a symbol of the group’s ability to “chop down” any singing rival who might challenge them.
Paul Simon visited South Africa in the 1980s and incorporated Black Mambazo’s rich tenor/alto/bass harmonies into his Graceland album, a landmark 1986 recording that was considered seminal in introducing world music to mainstream audiences.
Since that time the group has maintained a respect and a reverence for their past. The centuries-old story of their homeland – sometimes joyous, sometimes troubled, but always rich and exhilarating – has been at the very foundation of this vocal group since its very beginning. But alongside the South African history witnessed by an entire world, there’s a quieter, more personal past shared by the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It was a time of youth and innocence, when the world consisted of nothing more than the hills and open fields of their parents’ farms in Zulu country.
Visit Page Theatre for ticket information.
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