Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala to have school named after him

Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala will be honoured for his 76th birthday on Sunday when a school is named after him.

Klipriver High School in Ladysmith will be renamed in recognition of the world music icon whose world-famous isicathamiya group is also celebrating its 56th anniversary in the music industry.

Mambazo‚ who have shared the stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton and have three Grammy awards to their name‚ gained worldwide prominence in 1987 after their collaboration with Paul Simon on the award-winning Graceland produced hits such as Homeless and Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.

The group‚ which former President Nelson Mandela once described as South Africa’s “ambassadors of song"‚ is now led by Shabalala’s sons Sibongiseni‚ Thulani‚ Thami and Msizi and it also includes his grandsons who are members of the group.

Shabalala formed the group because of a series of dreams he had for over a period of six months during the late 1950s. He described this as “beautiful sounds featuring a choir singing in perfect harmony and one not achieved by any group at the time”.

As a result he formed the group‚ which was known as Ezimnyama (the Black Ones) in December 1960. He invited his brothers and cousins to join the group and began entertaining at wedding ceremonies and other community gatherings.

The group entered isicathamiya competitions held on Saturday nights in the halls of hostels in Durban and Johannesburg. The name was later changed from Ezimnyama to Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

The birthday celebration will take place at the school on Sunday with a number of cultural activities‚ including performances by the group. It is expected to be attended by family members‚ artists and government officials.

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