Though many American music fans have heard Ladysmith Black Mambazo, it’s altogether possible that they don’t know them by name. The all-male South African group had its moment in the American spotlight in 1986 when they sang with Paul Simon on his iconic album Graceland, a Grammy winner for Best Album of the Year. In the aftermath, Simon produced the group’s first US release, Shaka Zulu, which won the 1988 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album.
While the group may have attained its greatest international acclaim in the 80s their history goes back to the 1960s. The group name breaks down to founder Joseph Shabalala’s hometown, Ladysmith, a reference to oxen, Black, and axe, Mambazo. The group remains active today, touring, and in the process of recording a three CD set, the first part of which came out in 2011, titled Songs from a Zulu Farm.
Check out a sampling of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo sound below.