Forward motion is the natural state for the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Much of the spring and summer is devoted to international touring, including a concert at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Thursday, July 14. However, in late June the members of the South African vocal group had an opportunity to slow down momentarily during a weeklong visit to Chicago to workshop material for a concert in late 2017.
“We’ve done things like this before and it’s so enjoyable because you don’t know what you’re going to do,” longtime member Albert Mazibuko said recently. “I’ve been looking forward to it. We’re going to listen to what the story is going to be about and from there we’ll be writing some songs that will go along with the story. I’m excited to see how it is going to go.”
Today, there is greater awareness internationally of what is categorized as world music but that wasn’t the case when Ladysmith Black Mambazo began performing in the 1960s.
“It was only a dream that our music would be heard all over the world,” Mazibuko said. “We talked about it and we looked at each other and said, ‘How is this going to happen?’ We didn’t know but then when it did happen we said, ‘Wow, it is true that when you are talking about something you are creating the opportunity for the thing to be successful.’ Now, when I look back and I look at what is happening I say, ‘This is a blessing to us. We worked hard it came true.’ It’s a dream come true in every way.”
One of the keys to Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s creative longevity is frequent infusions of fresh young talent into the group’s ranks.
“The future looks very bright for Ladysmith Black Mambazo,” Mazibuko said. “I always put it on the new guys in the group. I say to them, ‘We laid the foundation and that was built and now there is more building to do. It is up to you if you are taking it up because the sky is the limit.’ It’s just up to them.
“For me, I enjoy a larger role of working with the young ones,” Mazibuko added. “I’m always telling them they can take this wherever they want to take it. ‘We’ve shown you how to do it, it’s up to you do dedicate yourself and work hard and do it right.’ Nothing comes easy in life. Whatever you want to achieve, you have to work hard at it.”