Joseph Shabalala, founder of South Africa's biggest pop group, is dead - Viusasa News

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Joseph Shabalala, founder of South Africa’s biggest pop group, is dead


The founder of South Africa’s male acapella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala, has died in hospital at the age of 78, the government and national broadcaster SABC said on Tuesday.

The Grammy Award-winning group provided back-up harmonies to Paul Simon’s 1986 Graceland album, introducing their African indigenous music to a global audience with the song “Homeless”.

Over their long career they also worked with musicians Stevie Wonder and Dolly Parton, among others.

“It is so sad to learn of the passing of an icon … I’m Zimbabwean and I grew up listening to Ladysmith Black Mambazo,” said Prosper Tsvanhu, who remembered his grandfather having the group’s vinyl records.

Shabalala founded the prolific group in the small town of Ladysmith along the east coast of South Africa in the 1960s, at the height of white minority apartheid rule.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala dies

According to the group’s website, the “Black” in their name was a reference to strong oxen and Shabalala’s early life on a farm, while the word “Mambazo” is the Zulu word for a chopping axe, a symbol of the group’s vocal power.