Pittsfield, MA– Berkshire Theatre Group welcomes five-time Grammy Award-winningacappella ensemble, Ladysmith Black Mambazo to The Colonial Theatre on Friday, March 9 at 8pm.
The Grammy Award-winning acappella ensemble, Ladysmith Black Mambazo captures South Africa’s historic struggle in an inspiring repertoire that melds the tradition of Zulu harmony, singing songs born in the mines during the apartheid era, with hints of gospel. Whether performing at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, in Disney’s The Lion King, or alongside Paul Simon on his album Graceland, Ladysmith Black Mambazo creates beautiful harmonies that have brought its unique sound to international prominence. The rich uplifting sounds and effortlessly synchronized dancing convey universal themes of faith, hope and peace, yielding a performance of pure, uninhibited joy.
In 2017 the group released two albums that both were nominated for Grammy Awards, a first for a World Music group. Songs of Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around The World was nominated for Best Children’s Album. Their second album of 2017, Shaka Zulu Revisited, won Best World Music Album.
Apartheid, the South African social system forced upon the country’s black majority to keep the white minority government in power, was a dividing force in many ways. The musicians and artists of South Africa took two paths of resistance. Some sang songs with powerful messages of revolution against the horrors of apartheid. Others, like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, followed a path of peaceful protest. Joseph, following the ways of Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi, wrote songs of hope and peace. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, in 1990, he stated that Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music was a powerful message of peace that he listened to while in jail. When Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1993, he called on Ladysmith Black Mambazo to join him in Norway and have them entertain at the ceremony. Mandela eventually called the group South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the world.
The group sings from a traditional music called isicathamiya (is-cot-a-ME-Ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa. It was there that black workers were taken by rail to work far away from their homes and families. Poorly housed and paid worse, the mine workers would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the wee hours on Sunday morning. When the miners returned to the homelands, this musical tradition returned with them.
During the 1970s Ladysmith Black Mambazo established themselves as the most successful singing group in South Africa. In the mid-1980s, American singer/songwriter Paul Simon visited South Africa and incorporated the group’s rich harmonies into the famous Graceland album (1986)–a landmark recording that was considered seminal in introducing world music to mainstream audiences.
In addition to their work with Paul Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has recorded with Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, Emmylou Harris, Melissa Etheridge, and many others. They have provided music for many movies, have appeared on Broadway where they were nominated for a Tony Award and even had a documentary film, titled On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom, the Story of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, nominated for an Academy Award.
Tickets to Ladysmith Black Mambazo are $30 and $45. Ticket Offices are open Monday–Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-2pm or on any performance day from10am until curtain.
About Berkshire Theatre Group
The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires. In 2010, under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, the two organizations merged to form Berkshire Theatre Group (BTG). Berkshire Theatre Group’s mission is to support wide ranging artistic exploration and acclaimed performances in theatre, dance, music and entertainment. Every year, BTG produces and presents performances to over 68,000 attendees and, through our Educational Program, serves over 13,000 Berkshire County schoolchildren annually. BTG’s celebrated stages reflect the history of the American theatre; they represent a priceless cultural resource for the community.