Ladysmith Black Mambazo play Coventry (and celebrate Queen’s birthday)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Famed South African a capella group return to UK. 

Shows inc The Queen’s Birthday Party & Warwick Arts Centre (11 May 2018).

Ladysmith Black Mambazo are one of the world’s greatest and most distinctive groups.

For over 50 years the legendary a cappella male choir have invoked the soul of South Africa with their intricate rhythms and harmonies and powerful, uplifting songs.

Called “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors” by the late Nelson Mandela, they shot to global stardom after featuring on Paul Simon’s 1986 album Graceland, and have been touring the world ever since.

Their performance at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, on Friday 11 May 2018, is preceded by an appearance at The Queen’s Birthday Party (21 April, Royal Albert Hall, London) – a night of music and song to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 92nd Birthday which also guests Sir Tom Jones, Kylie Minogue, Craig David and others, and will be broadcast live on BBC One and BBC Radio 2.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was assembled in the early 1960s by Joseph Shabalala, then a young farm boy turned factory worker. Joseph took the name ‘Ladysmith’ from his hometown, which lies in the province of kwaZulu Natal, halfway between the city of Durban (where members of the group live today) and Johannesburg. The word ‘Black’ being a reference to the oxen, the strongest of all farm animals, Joseph’s way of honouring his early life on his family’s farm. ‘Mambazo’ is the Zulu word for chopping axe, a symbol of the group’s vocal strength, clearing the way for their music and eventual success.

During the 1970’s and early 1980’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo established themselves as the most successful singing group in South Africa. In the mid-1980s, the American singer/ songwriter Paul Simon famously visited South Africa and incorporated the group’s rich tenor/ alto/ bass harmonies into his massive selling Graceland album – a landmark recording that was considered seminal in introducing world music to mainstream audiences.

A year later, Paul Simon produced Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s first worldwide release, Shaka Zulu – which the group recently re-recorded as Shaka Zulu Revisited (one of two Grammy nominated albums they released in 2017, the second being Songs of Peace and Love for Kids and Parents Around the World).

In 2014 founder, Joseph Shabalala, retired, passing the leadership torch to his sons, who joined Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 1993. Joseph’s sons carry the group into the future as they continue to sing of peace, of love and for people to live in harmony. They do so on every album and from every concert stage that they appear on.

Friday 11 May 2018
Serious presents
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL
Box Office: 024 7652 4524


‘Truly great singing, balancing soulful ballads and traditional dance songs with exquisite and perfectly timed harmony work’ (Guardian)

‘Though they sing entirely a cappella, their songs have a rhythmic spring, and their dance moves are light-footed and elegant’ (Daily Telegraph)

An Evening with Ladysmith Black Mambazo follows the roaring success of last year’s tour:

‘It’s not just their sound – instantly recognisable, fixed in the mind’s ear – but their look and their athleticism. They bounded on, promising an evening of “peace, love and harmony” from South Africa to the world and surely no one failed to pick up the joyous vibes as they sang and joshed with one another, and the audience.’ (★★★★☆ theartsdesk)

‘With their cheeky scissor-kicks, Ladysmith Black Mambazo were pretty spry for a 57-year-old choral group. Their line-up has evolved but the South Africans’ close-knit harmonies are just as faultless as they were on Paul Simon’s Graceland, which, in 1986, brought them international fame.’ (★★★★☆ Telegraph)

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