Magazine Feature

Ladysmith Black Mambazo hits the Newman Center

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo will visit the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on March 16.

The Newman Center will release a few standing-room-only tickets for the sold-out Ladysmith Black Mambazo show March 16. The tickets will go on sale at the Newman Center box office starting at 6 p.m. the day of the show and will cost $30.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo became widely known after their collaboration with Paul Simon on 1986’s Graceland, which won the Grammy award for Best Album that year. The group’s exposure on the album paved the way for more international releases. In 1993, Nelson Mandela asked the group to accompany him to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway. The group also has won numerous Grammy awards, including Best Traditional Folk Recording in 2005 and 2009.

“For more than 40 years, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has mixed the intricate rhythms and harmonies of their native South African musical traditions with the sounds and sentiments of Christian gospel music,” says Steve Seifert, executive director of the Newman Center. “Their music has touched audiences around the world, no matter their religious, cultural or ethnic backgrounds. The Newman Center for the Performing Arts is honored to host this renowned chorus.”

The group’s name is an amalgam of Ladysmith, the rural hometown of group founder Joseph Shabalala; Black, a reference to strong oxen; and Mambazo, the Zulu word for axe — a symbol of the group’s ability to “chop down” any singing rival who might challenge them.

The traditional music they sing is called “isicathamiya.” The music originated in South African mines by black laborers working far away from their homes and families. Poorly housed and paid, the workers would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the wee hours every Sunday morning.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo will perform at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. on March 16. A free “Behind the Curtain” lecture led by Arthur Jones, a clinical professor of culture and psychology at the Women’s College and the Divisions of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Parking is free. For more information, call 303-871-7720 or visit


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