Mention African song and most Americans think of South African practitioners of the vocal arts - Solomon Lindy, Miriam Makeba, and perhaps more than anyone else in recent memory, the vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, the group has recorded 40 albums and sold over six million records. First brought to the attention of an international audience through Paul Simon's Graceland recording, Mambazo's first US album Shaka Zulu won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album. Since then, the group has been nominated for a Grammy eight additional times, winning its third award in 2009.
It is Black Mambazo that represents the traditional culture of South Africa. The group is regarded as South Afria's cultural emissary at home and around the world. In 1993, at Nelson Mandela's request, Mambazo accompanied the future Present and then-President of South Africa F.W. de Klerk to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Mambazo sang again as President Mandela's inauguration in May of 1994. The group is a national treasure of the new South Africa, in part because it embodies the traditions suppressed in the old South Africa. Mambazo's current and future tours continue to spread the word of leader Joseph Shabalala's dream of preservation through education while encouraging all those who can to give their support.
Mambazo has recorded with numerous artists from around the world, including Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Ben Harper, and George Clinton. The group's film work includes a featured appearance in Michael Jackson's video Moonwalker and Spike Lee's Do It A Cappella. Mambazo has also provided the soundtrack material for the films The Lion King Part II, Coming to America, A Dry White Season, Cry The Beloved Country, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Time does not seem to be slowing down Ladysmith Black Mambazo as it continues to travel the world, meeting new friends, reaching new audiences, and spreading its message of Peace, Love, and Harmony.
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