Ladysmith Black Mambazo became internationally famous after appearing on Paul Simon’s 1985 album Graceland, but don’t take this nine-member South African male chorus for granted. They’re still making fresh, timely work, as in the 2016 song “Homeless.” “Strong wind destroy our home,” they sing, “many dead, tonight it could be you” — lyrics which could be heard to speak directly to victims of disasters around the Bay Area and the U.S. this past year.
The group snagged two Grammy nominations this year, one for a remake of their classic album Shaka Zulu. Co-host Ariana Proehl notes a Ladysmith Black Mambazo appearance at the Sonoma County Fair was the first concert she attended as a kid, and their high kicks on stage have stuck with her. And there’s continuity for the band, even without any of the founding members. Some are sons of the group’s founder Joseph Shabala, who got the idea for their a capella sound from a series of dreams in which he heard traditional Zulu melodies. If only we all dreamed such beautiful music.
The group plays Jan. 26 at the Green Music Center; Jan. 27 and 28 at Freight and Salvage; Jan. 30 at Grass Valley Center for the Arts; and Jan. 31 at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz. Details here.