Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sounds of South Africa

By Meredith Deliso

They’ve come a long way from “Graceland.”

The men of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the South African a capella group that forever shall be linked to Paul Simon’s 1986 album, may have found new audiences thanks to that collaboration. But in the years since, they have more than established themselves in their own right.

Since that recording, the group has garnered three Grammy nominations, including a win in 1988 for its debut, “Shaka Zulu,” and brought in stars to perform on its own albums, including Sarah McLachlan and Emmylou Harris on “Long Walk to Freedom.”

The men have also been invited to perform at Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies, South African presidential inaugurations, the Olympics, and even Queen Elizabeth’s 50th anniversary as monarch.

On March 19, you can experience the intricate rhythms and harmonies, as well as joyously energetic choreography, of Ladysmith Black Mambazo yourself when the group plays at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts in Flatbush, where it will pull from its most-recent release, “Songs from a Zulu Farm,” which brings it back to where it all began.

“These songs are from the earliest time in our lives,” said Joseph Shabalala, who founded the group 50 years ago. “These are stories our fathers and mothers and other relatives shared with us, songs our grandparents sang. When we sing these songs, we’re singing songs from our history.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts [2900 Campus Rd. at Hillel Place in Flatbush, (718) 951-4500], March 19 at 8 pm. Tickets $40. For info, visit


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