After 55 years in the music industry, South African acapella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo (pictured) has been nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award for “Best World Music Album.”
The Roots of Their Distinctive Style
Ladysmith Black Mambazo began their musical journey in the 1960s, drawing their musical style from the South African traditional music of isicathamiya, a music born out of the mines.
During the Apartheid era, when Black workers labored far away from their homes in the mines six days a week, Sunday would be their sole day of relief where they would sing songs for both peace and pleasure.
What’s in a Name?
The group’s name is a reflection of its roots: “Ladysmith” refers to the town lead singer Joseph Shabalala comes from near Johannesburg, “Black” refers to the singer’s race as well as the black oxen’s strength, and “Mambazo” is derived from the Zulu word for “chopping axe,” which symbolizes the group’s ability to always chop down their competition.
By the 1980s, the group was already known as one of the best singing groups in South Africa, and their success has endured throughout the decades: “Shaka Zulu” won a Grammy in 1988 for “Best Folk Recording,” “The Song of Jacob Zulu” won the Drama Desk Award for “Outstanding Music in a Play,” “Ukuzala-Ukuzelula” won SAMA Awards for “Best Zulu Music Album” and “Best Duo or Group Award” in 1997, “Raise Your Spirit Higher” won a Grammy Award for “Best Traditional World Music Album,” “Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu” won a Grammy award for “Best Traditional World Music Album” in 2009, and most recently, “Live: Singing for Peace Around the World” won a Grammy Award for “Best World Music Album” in 2013.
Now Ladysmith has been nominated for this year’s Grammy Awards for their album “Music from Anala,” which features Ella Spira and the Inala Ensemble.
Watch Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s interview about their latest Grammy Award nomination here:
Listen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Homeless” here:
Listen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Hello My Baby” here:
And watch them performing “Do It” on Spike Lee’s 1990 TV show live here: