Ladysmith Black Mambazo will perform two shows the evening of Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis. Photo: Courtesy of Ladysmith Black Mambazo

What Joseph Shabalala started over sixty years ago and Albert Mazibuko joined in 1969 has become for the Twin Cities a perennial experience. Ladysmith Black Mambazo troops on stage at the Dakota March 28th giving us all an opportunity for mindfulness if you’ve seen them before and delightful surprise if you’ve never indulged in their show.

Albert Mazibuko spoke with Mshale recently. He confirmed how this musical group appeals to both the veteran attendee and to the novice.

“I think people, they need to hear [us] because the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, it’s about comforting people and encouraging them, we make them see the world is not as bad, sometimes, as they see it,” he said.

This a cappella group has performed in the Twin Cities many times yet people still want to hear them over and over again. Mazibuko related how they are both fluid, changing according to the public’s tastes, and also static, providing the same message that their founder received in a series of dreams in 1964.

“We are going with the times because in the world, we see what niche [needs] to be addressed so [through] our music we try to make ourselves to understand the life that you are living,” said Mazibuko.

“It’s a drive behind us that Joseph used to take, the power that’s behind us and how he phrased it, that there’s something that is squishing us to drive this mission and try to make people understand…I think that’s the reason that it drives us and also makes us changeable with the times.”

Integral to Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s mbube singing is the dancing. Learned as children, the Ingoma features high kicking motions.

Mazibuko remarked, “For the dance? It’s a bonus in our music. If you sing Zulu music, so your singing is not complete until you dance.”

At age 74, Mazibuko embraces the adage, use it or lose it. “Amazingly, yes, I still do that [kick over his head]. I amaze  myself, I think, Wow, I still can do that. I think it’s going to stay with me until the end.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s longevity is not only about audience connection. The members truly desire to continue, reluctant even, to make way for a younger generation. Although, Mazibuko admitted, “we have some people who are already in the pipeline” to step forward when space opens up within the group.

But that time is not yet. Mazibuko insisted, “there’s no one ready to go away from Ladysmith Black Mambazo because I think it’s the best place to be.”

Tickets for the early and only 6:30 show are available at the Dakota website.

About Susan Budig

Susan is based in Minneapolis and reports on general assignments for Mshale with a focus on entertainment. In addition to reporting, she is also a writer, poet, teacher and coach.

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