Paul Simon Introduces to The World: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is possibly the finest acapella group in the world. With one foot steeped in tradition and the other in modernity, Ladysmith’s contribution to international music is undeniable. However, it took Paul Simon to introduce this group to the world (on the classic album Graceland). To find out more about this collaboration, check out this video documentary chronicling the meeting of the white Paul Simon and the black Ladysmith Black Mambazo in South Africa during Apartheid. Additionally, be sure to watch their performance of Hello My Baby and Homeless (with Paul Simon) and Township Jive (solo). Even if you already own Graceland, it is definitely worth your while to check out some of Ladysmith’s CDs: The Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo Vol. 2, or The Warner Brothers Collection. (best listened to in full stereo). And if you are able to see them live, they continue to tour internationally. Your ears will thank you.

Related Tags: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Paul Simon, Graceland, South African Music

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6 thoughts on “Paul Simon Introduces to The World: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

  1. Kelly says:

    Cool blog..and one to which I actually can contribute something meaningful.

    ..so…On a related note…the origin of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbube_%28song%29. Everybody knows this song…but not many people know it’s origins in traditional African music.

    Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s name origin is also of note. Founder Joseph Shabalala was born in the township of Ladysmith. “Black” actually refers to the black oxen, considered the strongest animal, and “Mambazo” means “axe,” as the group “chopped down their competition.”

    Incidentally, in my search just now, I’m surprised the wikipedia article doesn’t mention Spike Lee & Company: Do it A Cappella, a 1990 PBS special that for many people I know was their first exposure to the group, and the traditional version of “Mbube,” I was too young to remember Paul Simon’s Graceland when it came out in 1986. So…I must discover in hindsight..

  2. lostmelodies says:

    Kelly, I had planned on a future post talking about Solomon Linda, writer of Mbube, but you beat me to the punch! There is a great documentary about the song and a Rolling Stone article exposing the truth about it. It is really a sad story, but one that needs to be told.

  3. The web we weave says:

    so true i’ve just finished a blog post about world music and mentioned ladysmith black mombazo

  4. […] of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon on his album Graceland, whilst they may have already been contributing to international music in a huge way, for them to be known globally they needed to team up with someone like Paul […]

  5. Sethukile Zibagwe says:

    I would like to know more about Ladysmith Black Mambazo

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