Published: Wed, February 12, 2020
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Just in: Joseph Shabalala, founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, has died

Just in: Joseph Shabalala, founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, has died

The founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Pretoria. "We will continue to celebrate the life of our father, Joseph Shabalala, as we have done since he retired in 2014", read the statement. "Through your music and the millions who you came in contact with, you shall live forever", the group said on it's official Twitter. "The group is on tour in the USA, but they have been informed and are devastated because the group is family".

Their exquisitely harmonised a cappella songs in Zulu became hugely popular in South Africa after the release of their debut album in 1973. We extend our honest sympathies to the wife, Thokozile Shabalala, family and the whole music fraternity.

He is world-known for his leadership of the choral group founded in 1964 that shot to world acclaim, collaborating with Paul Simon on the Graceland album and others.

Their name was chosen to reflect their home and their ambition: "Ladysmith" is their hometown, "Black" represents the black oxen on the farm where Shabalala grew up, and "Mambazo" means "axe", a bit of a boast from a group that could "cut down the competition".

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Over the years, they also collaborated with Dolly Parton, Josh Groban, Emmylou Harris and more; the group appeared in the Michael Jackson film Moonwalker. Their theme for England's 1995 Rugby World Cup campaign, a version of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, reached No 15 in the United Kingdom singles charts, and a 1998 best-of compilation album reached No 2.

"(Mandela) was a loyal follower of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who had the distinction of being part of the cultural program at the Nobel ceremony where our founding president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize", South Africa's presidency said. The group have been nominated for 17 Grammy awards, winning five, most recently for best world music album in 2017. Ulale ngoxolo Tata ugqatso lwakho ulufezile.

Tributes have been pouring in on social media following the death of South African music icon, Dr Joseph Shabalala.

Manager of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Xolani Majozi described the passing of Shabalala as a great loss to the global music community.

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