Black Mambazo’s Grammy ‘for Mandela’


28 January 2014

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has dedicated their latest Grammy award to the memory and legacy of former president Nelson Mandela, news agency AFP said on Monday.

The traditional isicathamiya group shared the award with “flamenco fusionists” The Gipsy Kings for “best world music album” for their record Singing for Peace Around the World at the awards in Los Angeles in California on Sunday night. It was the group’s 16th nomination – and its fourth Grammy.

Other nominees in the world category were Ravi Shankar for The Living Room Sessions – Part 2 and Femi Kuti for his album No Place for my Dream.

The group dedicated the work to Mandela, who died in December last year, and said all proceeds of the album purchased on their website would be donated to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Group member Sibongiseni Shabalala told Eyewitness News that when they received the nomination, “we already said we hope to win this for Madiba”.

US tour

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is currently on a three-month tour of the US, performing in New Orleans, New York, Washington DC and other cities.

Formed by Joseph Shabalala in 1964 after hearing a harmony in a dream, the group made their first recording in the early 1970s – and have recorded more than 40 albums since.

They are South Africa’s foremost proponents of the Iscathamiya, a traditional Zulu style of singing.


The group gained international fame and recognition in the late 1980s, following their collaboration with Paul Simon on his Grammy Award-winning Graceland album.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s previous Grammys include one for best folk recording in 1988 for their album Shaka Zulu, which was produced by Simon; another in 2004 for Raise Your Spirits Higher; and for Ilembe in 2009.


When Mandela died in December last year, the group wrote a tribue just hours after the former state president passed away. “Nelson Mandela was one of us but he was able to change our nation because of his incredible will, his dignity and his humanity.

“We are often asked about our most memorable career moments. The expected answer is usually about work with famous entertainers or about winning Grammy Awards. This is not so. Our most memorable moment was in 1993 when Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Madiba asked us to join him on his trip to receive the award in Norway, to sing and to represent our nation. He would say to us that we are South Africa’s “cultural ambassadors” to the world. We took this honour very seriously,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.

“Now, it’s left for all of us to carry on his mission. We must continue the journey of making not just South Africa, but the whole world, a peaceful, forgiving place. If we all keep Mandela’s way within us, we can achieve greatness. As we continue to spread the message of peace, love and harmony, we re-dedicate ourselves to Mandela and his dream of a Rainbow Nation, a Rainbow World, in fact. May his journey continue in the soul and spirits of all who were touched by him.”

SAinfo reporter