The voice of South Africa

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Friday, Oct. 3

Aladdin Theater

3017 S.E. Milwaukie


7 p.m.

$23.50 adv./$25 day of show

All ages>

Ladysmith Black Mambazo퀌_s introduction to most American ears was probably on Paul Simon퀌_s 1986 album Graceland. Songs like 퀌�Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes퀌� showcased the rich, smooth sound of this South African vocal group. But there is much more to Mambazo퀌_s repertoire, as Portlanders will discover at the upcoming show at the Aladdin.

This Friday, the group will showcase more than 30 years of experience. Mambazo was born of vocalist Joseph Shabalala퀌_s dream of the perfect harmony. In 1964, he gathered family members and friends and guided them toward his vision. Based on traditional music born in the mines of South Africa, Mambazo퀌_s sound dominated the singing competitions it entered.

The group퀌_s name actually came from these successes. Ladysmith is Shabalala퀌_s hometown, black refers to the strength of the black ox and mambazo refers to an ax, which represents the group퀌_s ability to chop down the competition.


Eventually, Mambazo퀌_s sound was heard on a radio broadcast and, in 1970, it received its first record deal. Since then, the group has recorded more than 40 albums and garnered seven Grammy nominations. It won Best Traditional Folk Album for 1987퀌_s Shaka Zulu, which Simon produced. Recent albums include Favourites and In Harmony. Both were released in 2001.

Mambazo has worked with many artists, ranging from Dolly Parton to Ben Harper to Stevie Wonder. Movie soundtracks, film and television appearances and theater work have also kept the group busy. Mambazo has performed for the Queen of England and the Pope 퀌_ just to name a few heavy hitters 퀌_ and at two Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies.

For more tour dates, reviews and a guide to the Zulu language, visit