Ladysmith Black Mambazo plans US return
South African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo will once again welcome the New Year with an extensive tour of the US.
The Grammy-winning group, which just finished a European jaunt, will return to the road beginning Jan. 24 in Philadelphia and visit nearly 35 cities from coast to coast through late March. The itinerary, listed below, currently is set to wrap with a half-dozen shows around California. Ladysmith Black Mambazo also is planning treks through Asia, Australia and the UK later in the year, according to its website.
The a capella singers are supporting their latest effort, "Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu," which hit US shores earlier this year and reached No. 3 on Billboard's Top World Albums chart. The record celebrates the life of the African cultural icon and passes along his messages of peace, unity, social harmony and national pride, according to Ladysmith Black Mambazo's bio.
"There are still many people who need to be filled with the spirit of unity and hope that Shaka embodied," lead vocalist Joseph Shabalala said in a statement. "We are trying to remind people of the importance of what this man did. That was my purpose, to bring the people back to the roots of their culture."
"Ilembe" follows the group's 2006 Grammy-nominated album, "Long Walk to Freedom," which features guest stars including Sarah McLachlan, Melissa Etheridge, Emmylou Harris, Natalie Merchant, Taj Mahal and South African artist Lucky Dube.
Shabalala formed Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the mid-'60s and has seen the group through more than 40 albums and a dozen Grammy nominations. The singers reached a whole new world of fans in the mid-'80s when Paul Simon incorporated their Zulu harmonies into his "Graceland" album.
In 1987, Simon produced Mambazo's first US release, "Shaka Zulu," which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album.
In addition to its work with Simon, the group has recorded with a slew of artists including Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, The Wynans, George Clinton, Ben Harper and Josh Groban. Ladysmith Black Mambazo has also provided material for several movie soundtracks, advertising campaigns and theater productions.