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Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Play Southern Theatre, 2/4

Ladysmith Black Mambazo to Play Southern Theatre, 2/4

Led by founder and leader Joseph Shabalala, Ladysmith Black Mambazo now celebrates more than 50 years of joyous and uplifting music that marries the intricate rhythms and harmonies of their native South African musical traditions to the sounds and sentiments of Christian gospel music. In those years, the a cappella vocal group has created a musical and spiritual alchemy that has touched a worldwide audience representing every corner of the religious, cultural, and ethnic landscape. Their musical efforts over the past five decades have garnered praise and accolades within the recording industry, but also solidified their identity as a cultural force to be reckoned with.

CAPA presents Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Southern Theatre (21 E. Main St.) on Tuesday, February 4, at 8 pm. Tickets are $28 and $33 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. Individuals aged 13-25 may purchase $5 PNC Arts Alive All Access tickets while available. For more information, visit www.GoFor5.com.

This Spectrum Series performance is made possible through the generous support of series sponsors David and Mo Meuse and 2013-14 CAPA season sponsor American Airlines.

Assembled in the early 1960s in South Africa by Shabalala, then a young farm boy turned factory worker, the group took the name Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Ladysmith being the name of Shabalala's rural hometown; Black being a reference to oxen, the strongest of all farm animals; and Mambazo being the Zulu word for axe, a symbol of the group's ability to "chop down" any singing rival who might challenge them. Their collective voices were so tight and harmonies so polished, they were eventually banned from competitions, although they were welcome to participate strictly as entertainers.

A radio broadcast in 1970 opened the door to their first record contract. Their philosophy in the studio was - and continues to be - just as much about preservation of musical heritage as it is about entertainment. The group borrows heavily from a traditional music called isicathamiya (is-cot-a-ME-ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa, where black workers were taken by rail to work far away from their homes and their families. Poorly housed and paid worse, the mine workers would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the wee hours on Sunday morning. When the miners returned to their homelands, this musical tradition returned with them.

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