Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM) creates a transformative experience with uplifting vocal music. The heavenly harmonies of this South African mbube acapella ensemble come to The Ark this month, part of an extensive world tour in support of their two recent albums.
LBM was formed more than 50 years ago by Joseph Shabalala. Western and pop culture audiences know them best for their collaboration with Paul Simon for the album Graceland, recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Their elaborate and celebratory concerts swell with airy melodies, warm tones, and radiant lyrics encouraging hope, praising peace, and spreading love. The late Nelson Mandela designated them South Africa’s “Cultural Ambassadors to the World,” and in that capacity they strive to prove to any audience the true power of music; powers for healing, rejuvenation, and cultivating compassion. Both their 2017 albums, Songs of Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around The World, and Shaka Zulu Revisited were nominated for Grammys.
Mdletshe Albert Mazibuko, currently the member with the longest tenure, joined LBM in 1969. Current chatted with Mazibuko about the Ark show on Saturday, February 17.
How can a LBM performance demonstrate the power of music?
We’ve always felt music has a strong healing power. It’s strong medicine. This is what our founder, Joseph Shabalala, wanted his music to do: help the people of South Africa! We went through such turmoil and strife. Things might be wrong in your day-to-day life, but when you listen to music it can make things a bit easier. At least that’s what we hope.
What inspired LMB to make an album for children and parents?
We love singing to children. We want them to hear messages of love and how they should live in a peaceful way. There’s so much trouble for kids, whether it’s what they see going on in the news, or what goes on in their own lives: bullying, fighting, etc. We want them to hear songs with a positive message about how to treat others and how others should treat them. And whether its children listening or adults, we think these messages of peace and love are important..
The predominant message, vibe, and the energy of your music is about hope… that can be such a fragile thing sometimes. What do you tell your audiences or your fans who might be feeling distressed more than usual, these days?
This is very true, that hope is fragile. It’s the belief in one’s life, one’s world becoming more positive. I think it certainly comes down to each individual’s mindset and finding a community of people who feel the same way. By coming together as a community, be it in one house, on one street, in one town, one country or even one world, we can strive for change for the better. Sure, people experience disappointment, but through that disappointment comes a new hope for the future. A better life, a better world is there. We just need to keep trying.
When you perform around the world, what is always your biggest hope?
To affect people! To make a difference in their lives. To add hope, love, and some peace. Let them feel those emotions. That’s why they come. To feel something we can take with us to use in the future. Something to make people’s lives better, even for a small amount of time. That’s our hope, every night.
$45 | 7:30pm | Saturday, February 17
The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
734-761-1451 | theark.org