Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Three questions with a member of the South African band

From the February 2014 edition

For decades, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has combined South African sounds with traditional gospel messages to create the captivating a cappella music they share worldwide. In anticipation of their concert Feb. 4 at the Southern Theatre, original member Albert Mazibuko tells us what to expect at the show, how their music represents their culture and why Nelson Mandela was an inspiration. capa.org

What can we expect to see and hear at your upcoming show?

Be prepared for new sounds, new languages and new styles that you may never have seen before. Of course there are no instruments, so you will only hear the most beautiful instrument on earth—the human voice.

How do you connect the audience to your South African heritage?

We bring our culture and country to the stage. [We sing] songs in our language, Zulu, with traditional Zulu dancing, as well as songs in English. We compare our Zulu songs to jazz, where there might not be lyrics but the listener hears a beautiful sound that captures them. There’s a lot of energy on stage. People always tell us that after seeing our concert they feel they’ve just traveled to South Africa for almost two hours.

After the passing of Nelson Mandela, the group announced you’d dedicate proceeds from your Grammy-nominated album, “Live: Singing for Peace Around the World,” to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. How has Mandela been an inspiration to the group?

When Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he asked us to join him to receive the award. He wanted us to sing for South Africa. He called us “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors to the world.” We took this very seriously. His message of peace has been a cornerstone for our group and will continue to be the main part of who we are, what we sing about and what we share with people at our concerts.