It is difficult to ignore any art, born out of humble beginnings, that has received widespread and international admiration.
While its presence on the international stage did not appear until the release of Paul Simon’s seminal album, “Graceland,” in 1986, Ladysmith Black Mambazo was created about 20 years prior.
At the time, a young Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith, South Africa listened to the messages in several of his dreams to assemble the singers of this world-treasured a cappella group, he said.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo will perform March 10 on the Flynn MainStage.
“Music talks to the heart. It makes people sit down and think and try to see things in a different way… the songs we sing are encouraging people to come together to solve their problems in peace,” said Albert Mazibuko, one of the two original members remaining in the group.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo has received four Grammys, and fifteen Grammy nominations for their music.
The group draws from iscathamiya, a traditional musical form that developed as a means of sustaining hope and unity among struggling mine workers in South Africa, according to Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s website.
Shabalala heard the soft sounds of iscathamiya singing in his dreams, which is what prompted him to recreate them through Ladysmith Black Mambazo, according to a 1987 Los Angeles Times article.
“When we collaborated with Paul Simon, it was the highest point of the group, because people would not know us as they do now if it wasn’t for Paul Simon and ‘Graceland,’ so we were very fortunate and we were always grateful for that,” Mazibuko said.
Sophomore Harrison Myers is one of those people who was first exposed to the group through ‘Graceland.’ “I really like [Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s] percussion and harmonies and I feel like they would be super fun to see live,” he said.
Mazibuko also spoke of the new generation bringing the group “a lot of new energy and new knowledge,” he said. Many of the new, younger members are the sons of deceased or retired original members.
In addition to Simon, the group has collaborated with a number of American musicians, including Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton.
Their music has also been featured on many movie soundtracks including Disney’s “The Lion King Part II,” Sean Connery’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus.”
“To collaborate with other musicians proves that unity is power. When people come together to do something, you come with your energy, I come with mine…and the outcome is amazing,” Mazibuko said.
Mazibuko said he hopes it will not be too cold in Vermont, but the group is very excited to perform here.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs at 8 p.m. March 10 on the Flynn MainStage.