Pius Shezi Voice & Dance

Pius Shezi

Ladysmith Black Mambazo first came together in the early 1960s under the gentle guidance of sweet-voiced Joseph Shabalala. His inspiration for the group came to him in a dream in which a choir of children sang and danced. Shabalala soon transferred that dream to reality when heformed Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is part of the time – honoured tradition of South African Zulu male choral music called isicathamiya (derived from the Zulu word meaning ‘to walk or step on one’s toes lightly’). The roots of isicathamiya go back to the turn of the twentieth century when large groups of males left their homelands and families to find work and lived in all male hostels in the cities and near the mines. These migrants didn’t form football teams or the like, but instead turned towards singing as a means of staying close to their roots. Ladysmith Black Mambazo released their first album in 1973 and has since produced over 30 albums, including a collaboration on Paul Simon’s Graceland in 1986. Graceland was one of the best selling albums of the eighties. Their Star and the Wiseman album, which includes the much-loved song inkanyezi nezazi, which featured on the Heinz commercial, has sold over a million copies in the UK alone.

In addition to their work with Paul Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has recorded with numerous artists from around the world, including Stevie Wonder, Josh Groban, Dolly Parton, Ben Harper and many others. Their 2006 CD, "Long Walk To Freedom" had guest singers join them, such as Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Melissa Etheridge, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal and others. Their film work includes an appearance in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker video and Spike Lee’s Do It A Cappella. They provided soundtrack material for Disney’s The Lion King, Part II as well as Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America, Clint Eastwood's Invictus, Marlon Brando’s A Dry White Season, Sean Connery’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and James Earl Jones’ Cry The Beloved Country. A film documentary titled On Tip Toe: Gentle Steps to Freedom, the story of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, was nominated for an Academy Award. The group is also well known for its Life Savers candy commercials as well as adverts with Heinz Beans. Their performance with Paul Simon on Sesame Street is legendary and is one of the top three requested Sesame Street segments in history.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been invited to perform at many special occasions. Nelson Mandela (shortly after his release from prison) publicly stated that the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo were "South Africa's cultural ambassadors". By special invitation from South African President Nelson Mandela, they performed for the Queen of England and the Royal Family at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The group has also performed at two Nobel Peace Prize Ceremonies, a concert for Pope John Paul II in Rome, the South African Presidential inaugurations, the 1996 Summer Olympics and many other special events. In the summer of 2002, Ladysmith Black Mambazo was again asked to represent their nation in London at a celebration for Queen Elizabeth’s 50th Anniversary as Monarch. They shared the stage with Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and Phil Collins.

Ladysmith Mambazo presents: Albert Mazibuko, Sibongiseni Lucas Shabalala, Thulani Frederick Shabalala, Thamsanqa Shabalala, Msizi Innocent Shabalala, Abednego Mazibuko, Ngani (Mfanafuthi) Dlamini, Pius Hlanganani Shezi, Babuyile Shabalala.