DVD REVIEW: Ladysmith Black Mambazo Live!
Ladysmith Black Mambazo has sold more records than any group of African musicians in history. Anyone who has had the privilege of seeing them in concert knows exactly why. For those who haven’t, their new DVD Ladysmith Black Mambazo Live! is as close to the real thing as you can get. The group’s beautiful harmonies and dynamic stage presence make their concert a breathtaking experience.
Joseph Shabalala formed Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 1964 after hearing the beautiful harmonies of isicathamiya (the traditional music of the Zulu people) in a series of dreams. Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal is the town from which Shabalala’s family comes; Black is the color of the black ox (the strongest animal on a South African farm); and Mambazo is the Zulu word for axe, picked due to the group’s ability to chop down their local competition.
While most people credit Paul Simon for Ladysmith’s long and successful career, they have earned every bit of success they’ve experienced due to their commitment to their traditions and electric stage presence. They were a local sensation before Paul Simon introduced them to the world, and they have opened doors and ears for lesser-known African musicians.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo Live! captures the beauty and magic of their live performance, but the real thing is even more magical. If you ever have the opportunity to see them live, do yourself an enormous favor and go see them. They represent what’s beautiful in the world.