First View


Ladysmith Black Mambazo's new album will be released on January 24th, 2006 under the title "Long Walk To Freedom". It's no accident that Nelson Mandela's autobiography has the same title. A great part of this autobiography was written secretly while Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa's apartheid regime. Ladysmith Black Mambazo's new album incorporates like Mandela's autobiography the spirit of South Africa, the struggle for freedom from apartheid and the joy of liberation. The album is a collection of twelve new recordings of classic Mambazo songs plus a brand new composition. This compilation is a mirror of the group's history.

The album starts with Nomathemba (hope). "I wrote Nomathemba in 1965 and it was the first song I ever composed after it came to me in a dream", comments Joseph Shabala, founder, leader and musical director of the group. It was the first hit single on their album "Amabutho" (1973). Joseph's lithe alto coos and growls above two tenors and more basses that make soothing, rhythmic textures punctuated by breathy bursts is the typical vocal art of LBM. You find this structure in nearly all songs of this album.

Hello My Baby was originally recorded on the album "Ezinkulu" (1979). The group is supported by  "Zap Mama", an a cappella group probing cross-cultural musical pollination. Zap Mama was founded by the Zaire-born Marie Daulne. "I thank them for making me a part of this project and for opening a new creative vista for Zap Mama."

My favorite is Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes. Originally recorded on Graceland (1985) as a collaboration between Joseph Shabala and Paul Simon you can listen to an outburst of pure joy. The driving upbeat arrangement for this version was created by blessed jazz giant Joe McBride while Melissa Etheridge added her personal sensual vocal.

Another highlight of the album Graceland was the song Homeless. This version is featuring Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan. She sets the tone with the powerful recurring image of "moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake." Sarah has a special relation to the light, especially with the release of her newest album "Afterglow".

Rain Rain Beautiful Rain was originally recorded on "Shaka Zulu" (1987). Natalie Merchant is presented as the female lead vocalist. Her austere voice sets a personal note to this melodious song.

How Long is another song from "Shaka Zulu". This album also marks the beginning of Joseph's habit of writing some songs in English in order to make his music more accessible for listeners of other countries.

Most people know Mbube as "The Lion Sleeps tonight," which is one of the most popular African song around the world. It is based on a song in the Zulu Language that was written in 1939 by the musician Solomon Linda for his group "The Evening Birds". Mbube means "Come lion", which can be really dangerous. The song became a hit with an interpretation renamed "Wimoweh" by Pete Seeger and The Weavers in 1948. After this the song was recorded by more than 160 artists! This version is featuring the raw vocal of Taj Mahal. I've received a tremendous boost over the years from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, in terms of what they've done musically and socially," says Taj Mahal. "The tendency of music from oppressed people is to be pretty dark and melancholy, but this group refused to let the spirit of their music veer in that direction. They've always chosen the high road."

Amazing Grace is one of the most well-known Protestant hymns. The words were written by John Newton; they form a part of the Olney Hymns that he worked on, with William Cowper and other hymnodists. The Paul Simon/Joseph Shabala arrangement is a real incorporation of joy. This interpretation is showcasing multi-Grammy-winner Emmylou Harris. A very dominant vocalist. Amazing Grace is combined with the hymn Nearer My God To Thee to a gospel-medley.
Nkosi Sikeli' iAfrica (God Bless Africa) was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a teacher at a Methodist mission school in Johannesburg. For decades Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika was regarded as the national anthem of South Africa by the oppressed and it was always sung as an act of defiance against the apartheid regime. LBM originally recorded the song on the Japan-only live album "Traditional Zulu" (1990), when the song was still illegal.
Inkanyezi Nezazi ("Star And The Wiseman") was first released in 1992 and re-released as a single after its success as a Heinz TV commercial in England.
Shosholoza (Go Forward) originally appeared on "In Harmony" (1999). Lucky Dube, Bhekumuzi Luthlui, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela, Nokukhanya, Phuzekhemisi and Thandiswa are guesting on this tremendous song. Shosholoza is the name of a popular traditional African song favored particularly by hard working men whose work it was to lay railway lines.
Long Walk To Freedom ("Halala South Africa") is Joseph's contribution to the history of his homeland South Africa. Originally recorded on the album "Lihl' Ixhiba Likagogo" (2000) Joseph explains: "It means "congratulations South Africa". Many people were expecting war and we created peace, so when we sing it we thank our leaders and our people. It was a long and difficult road, but we made it."
Thula Thula is a brand new composition not previously heard on any Mambazo album. This lullaby features the solo voice of Mambazo leader and founder Joseph Shabalala.
Although many of these songs were already recorded on other compilations of Ladysmith Black Mambazo the support of many stellar guest singers makes this album unique and preferable.





  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo's bio
  • LBM's website
  • Buy the album on January 24th 2006 in all stores
  • Review about their album "No Boundaries"
  • Title: Long Walk To Freedom
    Artist: Ladysmith Black Mambazo
    Year: 2006
    Length: 0:54:52
    Genre: African
    Label: Heads Up International

    01 Nomathemba [4:15]
    02 Hello My Baby [4:58]
    03 Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes [5:47]
    04 Homeless [4:15]
    05 Rain Rain Beautiful Rain [3:05]
    06 How Long [5:15]
    07 Mbube [4:02]
    08 Amazing Graze/Nearer My God To Thee [3:33]
    09 Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica [2:30]
    10 Inkanyezi Nezazi ("Star And The Wiseman") [5:06]
    11 Shosholoza [4:54]
    12 Long Walk To Freedom "Halala South Africa" [5:19]
    13 Thula Thula "Bonus Track" [1:53]