Skip to main content
Friday, March 22, 2024 • 7:30 PM

La Jolla Music Society

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The Baker-Baum Concert Hall

FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 2024 · 7:30 PM




Called by the late President Nelson Mandela “South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the World,” the all-male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo came to international prominence after singing with Paul Simon on his smash hit 1986 album Graceland. They have become internationally famous and have won multiple awards, including five GRAMMYs, and received more GRAMMY Award nominations (19) than any World Music group in the history of recorded music. More than 60 years after their creation, the current members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo continue to live out the group’s mission of bringing peace and harmony to the world through musical performance of the highest quality.


2023 marks the 63rd anniversary of Joseph Shabalala forming Ladysmith Black Mambazo. 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.

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-1980s, 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.

After leading his group for over 50 years, Joseph Shabalala retired in 2014, handing the leadership to his three sons, Thulani, Sibongiseni, and Thamsanqa Shabalala. Having joined their father’s group in 1993, their many years of training had prepared them in ways no others could be trained. Now, carrying their father’s dream into the future, the Shabalala Family continues the group’s success for the world to hear.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is Thulani Shabalala, Sibongiseni Shabalala, Thamsanqa Shabalala, Msizi Shabalala, Albert Mazibuko, Abednego Mazibuko, Mfanafuthi Dlamini, Pius Shezi, and Sabelo Mthembu.