Ladysmith Black Mambazo at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts

May 16, 2015 by

Ladysmith Black Mumbazo

Four time Grammy winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been performing for over six decades under the tutelage of founder and musical director Joseph Shabalala, who recently announced his retirement. They became world wide names when their signature harmonies were featured on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and went on to work with high profile artists including Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson .The nine member acapella group, who are from South Africa, brought their unique brand of world music and message of unity to the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, warming the hearts and souls of winter weary Brooklynites.

Albert Mazibuko and Babuyile Shabalala

Albert Mazibuko and Babuyile Shabalala Photo by Arnie Goodman

Just before show time, elder statesman Albert Mazibuko and newest member, Babuyile Shabalala, Ladysmith manager Mitch Goldstein and Brooklyn Center Director Jon Yanofsky held an intimate talk session and provided insight into their formative days and a glimpse of upcoming projects. They recorded “Amabutho”, their first album, in just one day and told Brooklyn Roads that their newest one, “Always With Us”, took just two to complete, a remarkable feat, in view of the complexity of vocalizations inherent in their music. The group’s work regimen typically includes four hours of rehearsals each day, one of the reasons their performances have a pinpoint melodic cadence that captivates audiences.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo plans to bring “Inala”, a Zulu ballet, featuring world class dance and live music to North America later this year.  Babyuile Shabalala recently formed Young Mbazo, a contemporary offshoot of Ladysmith, with grandfather Joseph Shabalala’s blessing. Their sound is described as a “blend of traditional South African Zulu Isicathamiya singing style, with a hip-hop, R&B, jazz and soul influence” which they call “Indigenous Hop” music.

The stage was bathed in subdued lighting, with warm colors that complimented their dashikis during their two hour, fourteen song performance. Laden with expertly choreographed dance and gymnastic routines, highlights included “Ofana Naye”, from their 2013 Grammy winning  album “Live :Singing For Peace Around The World” , “Thalaza”  and “Diamonds On The Soles of Their Shoes” and “Homeless” from the Graceland album.

The entire evening was an enriching, spiritual and magical experience that you’ll ’want to share in, if you haven’t done so yet. So be on the lookout for “Inala” and Young Mbazo when they make their way here.