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Ladysmith Black Mambazo at New Jersey's State Theatre

2013 Grammy® Award-winning, South African a cappella vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo to play the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5 pm. This program will include a special tribute to Nelson Mandela. In addition, patrons can come early at 4pm to join in a community drum circle in the State Theatre lobby—drums will be provided. Tickets range from $25-40.

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, recently won a 2013 Grammy® Award for Best World Music for their album, Live: Singing for Peace Around the World.

The group’s current album, Always With Us, pays tribute to Nellie Shabalala, the late wife of Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder-leader Joseph Shabalala, by making a fully-produced cycle of songs featuring their own voices alongside vocals she recorded before her death in 2002.

The raw material for Always With Us is a collection of songs Nellie recorded with her own singing group from the township church she and her husband founded. Joseph and his fellow singers have spent several years mixing their vocals with Nellie’s to create all new songs. The result is a collection of 10 hauntingly beautiful recordings in which Nellie is rejoined with her husband and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It is the first album in their over 40 year recording history to feature female Zulu vocalists singing traditional songs.

In a career that spans over 50 years, South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo has garnered multiple Grammy® Awards, nominations and critical acclaim, and continues to sell out concerts in prestigious venues worldwide. Reviewing a recent performance at Carnegie Hall, Jon Pareles of The New York Times noted a distinctly Zulu quality of the group’s songs when he described them as “music that had survived sorrows to find benedictions in the aftermath.” This performance is part of their 2014 U.S. tour.

Assembled by leader Joseph Shabalala during the 1960s in South Africa, the name Ladysmith Black Mambazo refers to Ladysmith being the rural hometown Shabalala grew up in, Black as a reference to oxen (the strongest farm animals), and Mambazo being the Zulu word for axe, a symbol of the group’s ability to “chop down” any singing rival who challenges them.

In 1970, a radio broadcast opened the door to their first record contract—the beginning of an ambitious discography that includes more than 50 recordings. In the mid-1980s, Paul Simon visited South Africa and incorporated Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s rich tenor/alto/bass harmonies into his Graceland album—a landmark 1986 recording that was considered seminal in introducing world music to mainstream audiences. A year later, Simon produced Black Mambazo’s first U.S. release, Shaka Zulu, which won a Grammy® Award in 1988. In addition to their work with Paul Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has recorded with Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, Emmylou Harris, Melissa Etheridge, and many others. Since then, the group has been awarded three more Grammy® Awards and has been nominated a total of 16 times.

This performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo is part of the State Theatre’s 8th Annual Hub City Carnivale, a winter festival featuring performances, participatory activities, social events, and special attractions for all ages.

For tickets or more information, call the State Theatre ticket office at 732-246-SHOW (7469), or visit online at State Theatre ticket office, located at 15 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick NJ, is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10am to 6pm; Wednesday 11am to 7pm; Saturday, 1pm to 5pm; and at least three hours prior to curtain on performance dates, unless otherwise specified. For information on group outings and discounts, call 732-247-7200, ext. 517. Some additional ticket and transaction fees may apply.

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