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Ladysmith Black Mambazo Looks To The Future

of the Oakland Press

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Expect to see a little more youth in the lineup when Ladysmith Black Mambazo opens its North American tour this weekend in Ann Arbor.

“We’re going to put more young guys in the front because we want to give them the stage more than before,” explains Albert Mazibuko, who has the second most seniority in the South African a cappella group after his cousin, Ladysmith founder Joseph Shabalala. “We are not getting younger anymore, so we want them to take over if it happens we retire or move on.

“We don’t have any plans for retirement, but we just want to keep this going.”

Ladysmith, which came to worldwide notoriety as part of Paul Simon’s Grammy Award-winning “Graceland” in 1986, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It comes on the heels of the Grammy-winning success of the group’s latest album, “Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu,” in 2009 and an appearance in the film “Invictus.” A new album, “Kuyolunge,” comes out in February in South Africa with an expected release here later in the year.

Mazibuko, 61, says he plans to stay in the group until he’s 90, but he and Shabalala are vested in making sure there’s a next generation — including four of the latter’s sons — ready to follow in their footsteps.

“They have their own groups and they sing a different kind of music,” Mazibuko notes, “but we said to them, ‘Keep this culture and keep this pure, then you can do your own thing with your groups. But with Mambazo, keep it as pure as it is so that this music lives on.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs at 4 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 31) at Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University Ave. on the University of Michigan campus, Ann Arbor. Tickets are $10-44. Call 734-764-2538 or visit www.ums.org.

Web Site: www.ums.org

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