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October 2, 2003


California Online

Ladysmith Black Mambazo sings a form of traditional South African music called Isicathamiya, which was started by black mine workers. Poorly paid and living in run-down camps far from their families, the workers would entertain themselves on Saturday nights by singing songs into the late hours. Their quiet harmonies and light dance steps evolved so as not to wake up the camp security guards and earned them the name "Cothoza Mfana," or "tip-toe guys."

When the miners returned to their home towns, they took their music with them, and it spread, becoming so popular that singing competitions were started and quickly became the highlight of many towns' social calendars.

The genesis of Ladysmith Black Mambazo as a band came in the mid-1950s when Joseph Shabalala, a farmer from the town of Ladysmith, decided to seek his fortune in the nearby city of Durban. While working in a factory, he discovered he had a talent for singing and ended up joining several groups.

Posted by acapnews at October 2, 2003 3:49 PM


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