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February 13, 2020 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Joseph Shabalala, founder and musical director of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, dead at 78. International audiences primarily know the group through its appearance on Paul Simon's Graceland in 1986, but LBM has had a long career, going back to the 1960s. LBM helped popularize isicathamiya, a genre of Zulu a capella singing. Tributes to Shabalala have been published in Maverick Life, the Mail & Guardian, and IOL.
posted by Cash4Lead (32 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 

posted by Gelatin at 9:55 AM on February 13


. I wore my LBM Zulu phrases T-shirt to death. What a special experience it was to hear them live.
posted by meinvt at 10:02 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


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posted by mdoar at 10:10 AM on February 13



posted by ZeusHumms at 10:19 AM on February 13


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I was fortunate to see LBM perform in a rock club a few years after their appearance on Graceland and the subsequent controversy over whether Paul Simon had "stolen" their music. Midway through the show Shabalala addressed the topic directly, and led the group in a mini recitative: "Hmmmmmm, that day we met Paul Simon... Hmmmmmm, that was a beautiful day... Hmmmmmm..."
posted by PhineasGage at 10:32 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


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I was lucky enough to see them live when I was in college. I was blown away that they even bothered to play on our tiny college's stage, but so grateful. It was one of the most transcendent musical experiences of my life.
posted by treepour at 10:39 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


I saw LBM perform a few years ago, and it was a magical experience. Shabalala brought a lot of beauty into the world.

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posted by vibrotronica at 10:40 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


also they are in Put Down The Duckie, a very important song
posted by poffin boffin at 10:40 AM on February 13 [5 favorites]


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I met him once — interviewed him for Hawai'i Public Radio while he was visiting Honolulu. An amazing man, gentle and funny, and full of terrific stories about how the LBM got its start (and name).
posted by kikaider01 at 10:54 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]


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posted by Ber at 11:01 AM on February 13


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posted by /\/\/\/ at 11:31 AM on February 13


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posted by riverlife at 11:47 AM on February 13


My mom managed to get my dad to see the Lion King musical with her a few years ago. His reaction, and this was coming from a man that had never shown any interest in any music before, was to express his disappointment that there wasn't more Zulu music. So I introduced my dad to LBM. He saw them last year, the year before maybe? And it's all he could talk about for weeks. Just yesterday I sent my mom a video of LBM and Dolly Parton performing Knockin' on Heaven's Door.

Anyway, thank you for making my dad so happy. And for doubling his musical interests. (LBM and Queen, another recent revelation)
posted by Ruki at 11:48 AM on February 13 [6 favorites]


I saw them live a couple of times and they were lovely. So sad to hear this.

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posted by holborne at 12:19 PM on February 13


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posted by BeeDo at 12:31 PM on February 13


Jesus, Ruki, every time I hear something new about your dad I realize he's even cooler than I knew before.

(You mom's no slouch, either, and not just for keeping up with him all these years!)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:52 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]



posted by oneironaut at 1:19 PM on February 13


My wife and I just saw LBM a couple of weeks ago at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. Four of his sons perform in the current group, and one of the songs they performed was a very lovely tribute to their father.
posted by briank at 1:21 PM on February 13


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posted by sleeping bear at 2:14 PM on February 13


Saw them several years ago in Virginia, myself, and it was amazing. Also saw Simon's Graceland tour; I'm not sure if they toured with him or if it was a different backing group.

I always got a kick out of the group's name, which they explained. (Paraphrasing) Lots of cities and towns in SA had vocal groups that competed against each other, and the naming convention was your town's name, followed by something really badass and intimidating. Hence the Ladysmith. And Mambazo iirc means "axe." Sp Ladysmith Black Axe. Kinda almost metal!

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posted by martin q blank at 2:15 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


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posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:40 PM on February 13


I woke up Tuesday morning to the BBC World Service playing a background vocals section of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" and was like, man, not Paul Simon, too? Then I found out who had actually died, and was still sad.

"It uplifts the spirit. It makes you respect yourself, respect your father, your mother," [Shabalala] said [of his style of music]. "It makes you share ideas with your family at home and then it takes you to church also. You get into church like a person who is ready."
posted by praemunire at 2:40 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


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posted by ahimsakid at 5:02 PM on February 13


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posted by LobsterMitten at 5:26 PM on February 13


Come along, come along
To kiss me
Before I'm going
Come along
Come along
Come along
You
You
You
posted by RakDaddy at 8:21 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


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posted by stanf at 11:15 AM on February 14


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