Ladysmith Black Mambazo became popular with Paul Simon's album Graceland (1986). The song Homeless was often released on numerous albums of this group. Ladysmith Black Mambazo (The black axe from the town Ladysmith) was founded in 1964 by Joseph Shabala. He is creator, writer, composer and the genius of the group. He is still the spirit and leader of this vocal formation.

The DVD Ladysmith Black Mambazo LIVE! was recorded in Akron, Ohio, in 2008. The DVD listed 10 songs and two further songs as encore. All songs were composed by Joseph Shabala with the exception of Homeless, which is a collaboration with Paul Simon. Shosholoza and Amazing Grace are traditional compositions.

The concert starts with Nomathemba, which means in Zulu mother of hope.  "I wrote Nomathemba in 1965 and it was the first song I ever composed after it came to me in a dream", comments Joseph Shabala, founder, leader and musical director of the group. It was the first hit single on their album Amabutho (1973). Joseph's lithe alto coos and growls above two tenors and more basses that make soothing, rhythmic textures punctuated by breathy bursts is the typical vocal art of LBM.

The religious song This Is the Way We Do was recorded for the album Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu (2008). Shabala's conclusion: "Many people have asked us how we have had so much success. This is the way we do it. We put our songs together to worship God. If there’s something you want from this life, you have to ask God to help show you the way of how to do it. If you want to be successful at anything, you can only do it with the help of God.”

Long Walk To Freedom ("Halala South Africa") is Joseph's contribution to the history of his homeland South Africa. It was originally recorded on the album Lihl' Ixhiba Likagogo (2000). Joseph explains: "It means "congratulations South Africa". Many people were expecting war and we created peace, so when we sing it we thank our leaders and our people. It was a long and difficult road, but we made it."

Hello My Baby is from the album Ezinkulu (1979) and later re-issued on the GRAMMY-awarded Shaka Zulu (1987), produced by Paul Simon. This song was also published on the album Long Walk To Freedom (2006). The style of LBM is called Isicathamiya, a form of Zulu choral singing, sung by mine-workers and typically bass-heavy.

Nginethemba is a song "to encourage people to come together and solve their problems." (Shabala). Thulanhliziyo is a good example for the showmanship of the group. They interactive with the audience in a really entertaining way. Joking, dancing and singing.

Makoti from the album Shintsha Sithothobala (1977) is announced as a war-song. With wild gestures, jumps, whistling and other onomatopoeic sounds the group is painting their vision.

Rain Rain Beautiful Rain from Shaka Zulu (1987) is one of the rare songs in English certainly composed under the influence of Paul Simon. One highlight of the album Graceland was the song Homeless. A must for every concert of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Wentomb'unecala opens the stage for great solo jumps and gestures of the respective members.

After long standing ovations one of the group members jumps onstage and tells: "The guys told me you to say the show is finished." After this joking interlude the group presents Shosholoza (Go Forward), originally released on In Harmony (1999) and re-released on Long Walk To Freedom (2006). Shosholoza is the name of a popular traditional African song favored particularly by hard working men whose work it was to lay railway lines.

The second encore is a medley of Amazing Grace and Nearer By God To Thee. Both are well-known  hymns. The Paul Simon/Joseph Shabala arrangement is a real incorporation of joy.

This CD is Ladysmith Black Mambazo's invitation to visit their concerts. Pure fun and entertainment with great chorus and wonderful harmonies.




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  • Album information:

    Title: DVD: Live!
    Artist: Ladysmith Black Mambazo
    Year: 2009
    Length: 0:37:11
    Genre: World Music
    Label: Heads Up International


    01 Nomathemba
    02 This Is The Way We Do ("Ekuhlupekeri")
    03 Long Walk To Freedom ("Halala South Africa")
    04 Hello My Baby
    05 Nginethemba
    06 Thulanhliziyo
    07 Makoti
    08 Rain Rain Beautiful Rain
    09 Homeless
    10 Wentomb'unecala


    01 Shosholoza
    02 Amazing Grace/Nearer My God To Thee