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Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu (Heads Up Africa)

A brilliant South African warrior and king in the 18th Century, the legendary Shaka Zulu was one of the great unifiers of his nation. On the other hand, he was a strong-willed, vengeful man who was murdered by his half-brothers, one of whom succeeded him to the throne. Now Joseph Shabalala and his group present the all-original tribute Ilembe. Don't expect Ladysmith Black Mambazo to make music that reaches beyond fans' expectations; these tunes are sung with no instrumental backing, and all carry a deep spiritual message in English and the group members' native Zulu.

"Hlala Nami" stresses the importance of people coming together to do something positive for their communities, while the beautiful and spiritual "Let's Do It" illuminates the dangers of politics, urging us to live honestly "for the future generation." Also note the English-language "Prince of Peace," which challenges listeners to pray and express love to God with "rhythm of harmony and balance." Newbies who first came in contact with the group through Paul Simon's Graceland or The Lion King soundtrack will be delighted with Mambazo's incredible sonic and emotional range, though it's still best to take the group in live, where its exuberant talents can be fully appreciated.

 
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