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World music legend Ladysmith Black Mambazo to perform with Secrest Artists Series


February 12, 2010

More than 20 years ago, Paul Simon collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo to produce the “Graceland” album, hailed by many critics for generating widespread interest in world music.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo will perform traditional South African vocal music at 7:30 p.m. March 4 in Wait Chapel as part of Wake Forest University’s Secrest Artists Series.

Yomi Durotoye, a native of Nigeria and coordinator of the African Studies minor at Wake Forest, will give the pre-performance talk at 6:40 p.m. in the Balcony Room of Wait Chapel.  Durotoye is a senior lecturer in Wake Forest’s political science department.

Founded by Joseph Shabalala in South Africa in the 1960s, the group sang at Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th Anniversary as Monarch, joining Eric Clapton, Sir Paul McCartney and several other prominent singers.  Ladysmith also appeared on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and at the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.  Garnering several Grammy awards over the past two decades—most recently one in 2009 for Best Traditional World Music CD, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is cherished by audiences worldwide for their rich vocalizations, authentic world-music, and, according to the Boston Herald, their “celebration of the human spirit.”

As cultural ambassadors both at home and abroad, Ladysmith Black Mambazo represents the customs of their native country through traditional music called Isicathamiya (Is-Cot-A-Me-Ya). It was born in the mines of South Africa. Black workers were taken by rail to work far away from their homes and families. Poorly housed and paid very little, they would entertain themselves, after a six-day week, by singing songs into the wee hours every Sunday morning. When miners returned to their homelands, the tradition returned with them.

The name Ladysmith Black Mambazo came about as a result of Shabalala’s ensemble winning every singing competition they entered.  “Ladysmith” is the hometown of the Shabalala family; “Black” references the black oxen, considered to be the strongest on the farm. The Zulu word “Mambazo” refers to an ax, symbolic of the group’s ability to “chop down” the competition.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs around the world, crossing ethnic, cultural and country lines.  Shabalala’s ambition is to establish the first academy for the teaching and preservation of indigenous South African music and culture in South Africa.

Tickets are $25 general admission; $15 for senior citizens and non-Wake Forest students; Tickets are available at the Wake Forest Theatre Box Office Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free for Wake Forest faculty, staff and students.  The concert is presented by the Secrest Artists Series in partnership with the university’s Student Union.

For tickets or more information contact the Box Office at (336) 758-5295 or the Secrest Office at (336) 758-5757.

Press Contacts:

Kerry King
(336) 758-6084


Ellen Sterner Sedeno
(214) 546-8893


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