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Ladysmith Black Mambazo takes to the Byham stage. . .in Zulu, Sotho and English

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Forget the Carrie Underwood nightmare.
The hills are really alive with the sounds of music.
Even when there's no music.
The world is filled with the sounds of music.
Grammy-winning South African a cappella group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, will perform traditional songs and gospel inspired music of peace, love and harmony, at the Byham Theater on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, led by founder and leader Joseph Shabalala, celebrates more thanr 50 years of performing their joyous and uplifting music that marries the intricate rhythms and harmonies of their native South African musical traditions to the sounds and sentiments of Christian gospel music. In those years, the a cappella vocal group has created a musical and spiritual alchemy that has touched a worldwide audience representing every corner of the religious, cultural and ethnic landscape. The group’s musical efforts over the past five decades have garnered praise and accolades within the recording industry, as well as solidified their identity as a cultural force. The choral group was formed in 1965 in Ladysmith, South Africa; the group, which sings with a precise yet free-flowing phrasing, has consisted of 8 to 12 members. Its lyrics, which generally reflect religious themes and everyday concerns, are sung mostly in Zulu, but also in English or Sotho.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo has performed at many special occasions, including two Nobel Peace Prize Ceremonies, a concert for Pope John Paul II in Rome, the South African Presidential inaugurations, and the 1996 Summer Olympics. In 2002, the group was asked to represent their nation in London at a celebration for Queen Elizabeth’s 50th Anniversary as Monarch.
Shabalala–then a young farmboy turned factory worker–took the name Ladysmith Black Mambazo: "Ladysmith" being the name of Shabalala’s rural hometown; Black being a reference to oxen, the strongest of all farm animals; and Mambazo being the Zulu word for axe, a symbol of the group’s ability to “chop down” any singing rival who might challenge them. The group has recorded with a number of artists, including Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, Emmylou Harris, Melissa Etheridge, and many others. They've provided soundtrack material for Disney’s The Lion King, Part II as well as Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America, A Dry White Season starring Marlon Brando, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen starring Sean Connery, Cry The Beloved Country starring James Earl Jones and Clint Eastwood's Invictus. A film documentary titled On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom, the story of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, was nominated for an Academy Award.
The group has released various recordings over their long career. Of note, Songs from a Zulu Farm, released in 2011, is a collection of traditional tunes from their youth in South Africa.
Last year, a collection of live recordings, Ladysmith Black Mambazo Singing for Peace Live Around the World, has been nominated for a Grammy, Best World Music category, and is dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela and his mission of peace. The final award announcements take place in late January 2014.
The group’s mid-January 2014 release, Ladysmith Black Mambazo Always With Us, honors the late Nellie Shabalala, group matriarch and wife of ‘Ladysmith’ founder-leader Joseph Shabalala. This recording mixes the group’s voices with vocals of Nellie Shabalala and her church choir. It is the first album in their 40+ recording history to feature female Zulu vocalists singing traditional songs.

Tickets for the Byham gig begin at $24. To order, visit TrustArts.org or call (412) 456-6666. Learn about LBM by visiting mambazo.com.

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