Legendary South African all-male choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Sunday won the Grammy award for Best World Music Album, their fifth with an album, “Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Collection, that revisits one of its best works.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo who rose to worldwide prominence after performing with Paul Simon in his 1986 album “Graceland,” took to Twitter to thank their fans, friends and their country for the award.
— Ladysmith Black Mambazo (@therealmambazo) January 29, 2018
The ensemble has brought the global audience to the traditional Zulu style of harmony-driven singing known as isicathamiya.
The Shaka Zulu album was released in 1987 but the group decided to re-record it in tribute to the group’s founder Joseph Shabalala, who has retired and handed control to his four sons.
According to Shabalala’s sons, the latest album which has younger singers on the same tunes was also meant to honor earlier members of the sprawling ensemble who have since died.
Halala Ladysmith Black Mambazo!!! Congratulations on winning the Grammy Award for the Best World Music Album 2017. Continue flying our South African flag high. Re motlotlo ka lona. #GRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/5AYBwHVwrt
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) January 29, 2018
Where it all started
76-year-old Joseph Shabalala was raised in the apartheid era on a white farm in KwaZulu-Natal province.
He began singing after being inspired by dreams which eventually took on Christian themes.
Shabalala formed the group in 1960 and they went on to become one of South Africa’s most prolific recording artists, with their releases receiving gold and platinum disc honours.
The members of the group were relatives (mostly brothers and cousins) of Shabalala, with many having sung with him while he was growing up on the farm where he was born.
Handing down to younger generation
As he retired from recording, Shabalala created a foundation to promote isicathamiya singing to children.
The Recording Academy, which administers the top prizes in US music, has long showered love on Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which has been nominated 19 times.
The family ensemble continues under the leadership of his son Thamsanqa Shabalala.
Grammys 2018 – other winners
Bruno Mars was the biggest winner in the event that took place on Sunday in New York.
He took home six Grammys, including the top prize, in another victory for pop-driven music denying rappers Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z the honour of becoming the first hip-hop artist in 14 years to win the coveted album of the year award.
The awards included song of the year for his hit single, That’s What I Like, and both record and album of the year for 24K Magic.
Mars paid tribute to his album of the year rivals — Jay-Z, Lamar, Childish Gambino and Lorde — saying: “Thank you, guys, for blessing the world with your music.”