Black Mambazo's new album will be released on January 24th,
2006 under the title "Long Walk To Freedom". It's no
accident that Nelson Mandela's autobiography has the same title. A
great part of this autobiography was written secretly while Mandela
was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa's
apartheid regime. Ladysmith Black Mambazo's new album incorporates
like Mandela's autobiography the spirit of South Africa, the struggle
for freedom from apartheid and the joy of liberation. The album is a
collection of twelve new recordings of classic Mambazo songs plus a
brand new composition. This compilation is a mirror of the group's history.
The album starts with Nomathemba
(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.
You find this structure in nearly all songs of this album.
Baby was originally recorded on the album "Ezinkulu"
(1979). The group is supported by "Zap Mama", an a cappella
group probing cross-cultural musical pollination.
was founded by the Zaire-born
Marie Daulne. "I thank them
for making me a part of this project and for opening a new creative
vista for Zap Mama."
My favorite is Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes.
Originally recorded on Graceland (1985) as a collaboration between
Joseph Shabala and Paul Simon you can listen to an outburst of pure
joy. The driving upbeat arrangement for this version was created by
blessed jazz giant Joe McBride
while Melissa Etheridge
added her personal sensual vocal.
Another highlight of the album
Graceland was the song Homeless. This
version is featuring Canadian singer Sarah
McLachlan. She sets the tone with the powerful recurring
image of "moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake." Sarah has
a special relation to the light, especially with the release of her
newest album "Afterglow".
Rain Rain Beautiful Rain
was originally recorded on "Shaka Zulu" (1987). Natalie
Merchant is presented as the female lead vocalist. Her austere
voice sets a personal note to this melodious song.
is another song from "Shaka Zulu". This album also marks the
beginning of Joseph's habit of writing some songs in English in order
to make his music more accessible for listeners of other countries.
Lion Sleeps tonight," which is one of the most popular African
song around the world. It is based on a song in the Zulu Language that
was written in 1939 by the musician Solomon Linda for his group
"The Evening Birds". Mbube means "Come lion",
which can be really dangerous. The song became a hit with an
interpretation renamed "Wimoweh" by Pete Seeger and The
Weavers in 1948. After this the song was recorded by more than 160
artists! This version is featuring the raw vocal of Taj Mahal. I've
received a tremendous boost over the years from Ladysmith Black
Mambazo, in terms of what they've done musically and socially,"
says Taj Mahal. "The tendency of music from oppressed people is
to be pretty dark and melancholy, but this group refused to let the
spirit of their music veer in that direction. They've always chosen
the high road."
Grace is one of the most well-known Protestant hymns.
The words were written by John Newton; they form a part of the Olney
Hymns that he worked on, with William Cowper and other hymnodists.
The Paul Simon/Joseph Shabala arrangement is a real incorporation of
joy. This interpretation is showcasing multi-Grammy-winner Emmylou
Harris. A very dominant vocalist. Amazing Grace is combined with
the hymn Nearer My God To Thee
to a gospel-medley.
iAfrica (God Bless Africa) was composed in 1897 by Enoch
Sontonga, a teacher at a Methodist mission school in
Johannesburg. For decades Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was regarded as the
national anthem of South Africa by the oppressed and it was always
sung as an act of defiance against the apartheid regime. LBM
originally recorded the song on the Japan-only live album
"Traditional Zulu" (1990), when the song was still
Inkanyezi Nezazi ("Star And The Wiseman")
was first released in 1992 and re-released as a single after its
success as a Heinz TV commercial in England.
(Go Forward) originally appeared on "In Harmony" (1999).
Lucky Dube, Bhekumuzi Luthlui, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela,
Nokukhanya, Phuzekhemisi and Thandiswa are guesting on this
tremendous song. Shosholoza is the name of a popular traditional
African song favored particularly by hard working men whose work it
was to lay railway lines.
Long Walk To Freedom
("Halala South Africa") is Joseph's contribution to
the history of his homeland South Africa. 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
is a brand new composition not previously heard on any Mambazo
album. This lullaby features the solo voice of Mambazo leader and
founder Joseph Shabalala.
Although many of these songs were
already recorded on other compilations of Ladysmith Black Mambazo
the support of many stellar guest singers makes this album unique and