5x-Grammy Winners and 19x-Grammy Nominees
During the dark years of South African Apartheid, Ladysmith Black Mambazo followed a path of peaceful protest through songs of hope and love. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he said that Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music was a powerful message of peace that he listened to while in jail. When Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, he asked the group to join him at the ceremony. It was Mandela who called Ladysmith Black Mambazo “South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the World.”
The group sings a traditional music style called isicathamiya (Is-Cot-A-Mee-Ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa. It was there that black workers were taken to work far away from their homes and families. Poorly housed and paid, the mine workers would entertain themselves, after a six-day work week, by singing songs into the wee hours on Saturday night and Sunday. When the miners returned to their homes, this musical tradition returned with them.
In the mid-1980’s, American singer/songwriter Paul Simon famously visited South Africa and incorporated the group’s rich harmonies into his renowned Graceland album – a landmark recording considered seminal in introducing World Music to mainstream audiences. This brought the group to the attention of music lovers all over the world, the beginning of a global musical career that shows no sign of ending.