Ladysmith Black Mambazo brought Africa to the State Theatre


For 57 years Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been bringing their South African music to audiences around the world. More casual listeners know them from their collaboration with Paul Simon for the album “Graceland” in 1986, but 17 Grammy nominations, and 4 wins certainly prove their appeal way beyond that.

The current tour promoting their new album “Walking in the Footsteps of Our Father” came to the State Theatre Saturday. I was impressed by the variety of concert goers. There were several groups holding up signs for their members, families with kids, quite a few members of Minnesota’s African community and I think I even spotted a hipster or two. The concert itself was simple and straightforward but worked well for Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s style as a group. Between songs they shared the history of their group and South Africa with the audience. “The Long Road to Freedom” was dedicated to Nelson Mandela as South Africa celebrates its 22nd year as a democracy.  The songs highlighted their impressive vocal ranges and harmonies augmented by clicks, stomps and snaps.  What stood out to me was the response from the audience, where whistles and African warbles gave the show a cool feel.

Overall a very entertaining evening, quite different from what we usually cover.