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Ladysmith Black Mambazo @ The Annenberg Center for The Performing Arts.

February 3, 2014

LBM08Text and images by G.W. Miller III.

Days after winning their fourth Grammy Award, South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo entertained a sold-out crowd at the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

It was an amazing show, full of a cappella harmonies, high kicks and deadpanned jokes, with the ten-member troupe steadily moving in synchronicity like the back-up vocalists in a Motown band.

Hailing from Ladysmith, South Africa, the troupe has been together for more than 50 years. Founder Joseph Shabalala is missing the three-month tour as he is recovering from surgery but several of his sons are part of the group, and his grandson Babuyile is making his first world tour. Babuyile break-danced, did hand stands and goofed around on stage, seemingly enjoying himself all night long.

The group dedicated songs to Nelson Mandela, mine workers, the homeless, mothers-in-law, nature and Nellie Shabalala, the recently deceased wife of Joseph.

“Even though they are not with us, they are still in our hearts,” Babuyile Shabalala said.

But there was nothing somber about the evening. The soothing, rhythmic intonations constantly broke out in raucous dancing and joyous sounds.

See our interview with Albert Mazibuko, who has performed with Ladysmith Black Mambazo since 1969, here.

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