LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO
Mention African song and most people think of South African practitioners of the vocal arts - Solomon Linda, Miriam Makeba and perhaps more than anyone else in recent memory, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It is Ladysmith Black Mambazo who have come to represent the traditional culture of South Africa. They are regarded as South Africa`s cultural emissaries at home and around the world. In 1993, at Nelson Mandela`s request, Mambazo accompanied the future President, and then South African President F.W. de Klerk, to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Mambazo sang again at President Mandela`s inauguration in May of 1994. They are a national treasure of the new South Africa in part because they embody the traditions suppressed in the old South Africa.
It`s been more than fifteen years since Paul Simon made his initial trip to South Africa and met Joseph Shabalala and the other members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo in a recording studio in Johannesburg. Having listened to a cassette of their music sent by a DJ based in Los Angeles, Simon was captivated by the stirring sound of bass, alto and tenor harmonies. Simon incorporated the traditional sounds of black South Africa into the Graceland album, a project regarded by many as seminal to today`s explosive interest in World Music.