?Ladysmith? is worth taking a listen

Aubrey Canfield

If you were to ask any student on campus to name a Grammy award-winning artist they would probably be able to tell you that the album of the year was awarded to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and winner of Best New Artist was Adele. Chances are you wouldn’t hear about the two-time Grammy Award winning a cappella group known as Ladysmith Black Mambazo; but they are worth taking a listen. On Friday, March 20 Ladysmith Black Mambazo brought their show to the Northridge stage and gave an entertaining and enlightening performance.

Based out of South Africa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs a style of music called Isicathamiya, which was created by the mineworkers in South Africa. Singing in their native tongue or even sometimes singing in English, their music tells stories of hardship, history and hope. The distinctive harmonies and call-and-response styling transport the audience to a land far away. Their vocal capabilities were astonishing. Without the use of any instruments they created a full resonating sound. Some members of the group could even mimic the sounds of birds singing. The song leader told the story of each song.

We the audience sometimes forgot that these songs had been born out of apartheid because of their dynamic and entertaining nature. The stories brought the audience back to reality and provided a deeper appreciation of the composers. It was obvious they had to overcome dangerous obstacles in order to even sing.

Another unique quality of Ladysmith’s performance was their incorporation of dance. High kicks and synchronized steps accompanied the songs while a song leader introduced the next line and gesture.
After watching their performance it is no wonder the group has been nominated for more than 11 Grammys and the recipient of two. This tight-knit group of eight is more like a family than a music group. Their onstage camaraderie and dynamic personalities make for a fun and enjoyable show. Ladysmith Black Mambazo introduced the Northridge audience to the unique styling of South African music and continues to do so all over the world.