Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder bows out

Joseph Tshabalala, the founder of the Grammy award-winning choral group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, yesterday announced he is bowing out of the music scene after a career spanning more than five decades.

Speaking during a farewell breakfast hosted by eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo for the musical group before it jetted off to the 2014 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles today, Tshabalala said his physical condition no longer allowed him to perform at his peak.

“This is my time. I’m tired and now enjoy sitting and watching the youngsters perform,” he said.

Tshababala, 72, whose Isichathamiya group made history by becoming the first African traditional outfit to win a Grammy award in 1988, said a leg injury he sustained while performing overseas, had made it difficult for him to continue performing.

A former guitarist, Tshabalala hanged up his guitar in 1994 to form the Black Mambazo Zulu dance group after a dream informing him to switch to Isichathamiya.

“The ancestors visited me in a dream and told me spread the Isichathamiya music around the world,” he said.

Black Mambazo achieved international stardom in 1986 following the release of its now famous song Homeless, in which the group had collaborated with American singer Paul Simon.

The group had a number of tours around the world.

Put together by Tshabalala in his hometown of Ladysmith in 1964, the group went on to win three Grammies and was nominated a record 17 times for the same award.

Nxumalo, who hailed Black Mambazo as Durban’s ambassador, said the group has inspired not only Zulus, but Africans at large.

One of Black Mambazo’s three surviving founding members, Albert Mazibuko, said the group had put together a theatre musical telling the story of the group and that of South Africans – to ensure the legacy of the group live on.

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