Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Though they caught the non-Zulu-speaking world's ear a quarter-century ago with Paul Simon, and launched a quarter-century before that, South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo are still magnificent, still unlike anything else, and still led by the scratchy-voiced tenor who imagined their sound in a dream, Joseph Shabalala. Where the sleeve of 1974's third album, Umama Lo!, showed Shabalala and his various brothers and cousins posing with Mom, the a capella choir now includes four of his sons. The forthcoming children's album, Songs from a Zulu Farm, celebrates the rural life of Shabalala's childhood. (It closes with a hilarious and beautiful version of "Old MacDonald.") Yet the zipping, dipping, astoundingly unified sound of these voices together—as synonymous with democratic South Africa as Nelson Mandela—has evolved and reinvented itself over the years, and remains a wonder live.
Thu., Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., 2011

 
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