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Since Paul Simon’s Graceland album catapulted Ladysmith Black Mambazo to worldwide fame in 1986, the vocal group has remained true to the idea of opening doors to South African culture through their music, dance, and singing. For more than 30 years, the eight-member group has married the intricate rhythms and harmonies of their native South African musical traditions to the sounds and sentiments of Christian gospel music. The result is a musical and spiritual alchemy that has touched a worldwide audience representing every corner of the religious, cultural, and ethnic landscape. Assembled in the early 1960s in South Africa by Joseph Shabalala, a young farmboy turned factory worker, the group took the name Ladysmith Black Mambazo — Ladysmith being the name of Shabalala’s hometown, Black a reference to oxen, the strongest of all farm animals, and Mambazo the Zulu word for ax, a symbol of the group’s ability to “chop down” any singing rival who might challenge them. The group borrows heavily from a traditional music called isicathamiya (is-cot-a-ME-ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa, where black workers toiled far from their homes and their families. “It isn’t merely the grace and power of their dancing or the beauty of their singing that rivets the attention, but the sheer joy and love that emanates from their being.” (Paul Simon) A UMS debut!

Presented by the University Musical Society, www.ums.org.

Official Website: http://ums.org/s_current_season/artist.asp?pageid=549

Added by umsmarket on July 24, 2009