Yesterday, news spread like wildfire after Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala passed away. It has been a harrowing loss for the local and international music community as Joseph and the rest of the group left a long-lasting mark on the world while introducing the global community to all South African music has to offer. Now, Joseph’s sons open up about the legacy his father left during his time on Earth.
Joseph left the group under the guidance of his sons Thulani, Sibongiseni and Thamsanqa Shabalala after he retired and the trio share the impact their father has had on the group, themselves and the world.
“We didn’t have much choice but to be part of the group because singing was one of the main chores in the house. I formally joined the group when one of the members didn’t arrive and I had to stand in for him. From that day I became a full member,” Thulani says. “The main group was always abroad and unavailable hence there was a need for an alternative to perform at home,” he explains. “My brothers and I formed White Mambazo but at functions we performed Black Mambazo songs. They groomed and mentored us until we were ready to join the main group.”
Thami adds that “At first it was really difficult because people know his voice and they recognised his face but gradually people started to warm up to us,” Thami says. “It’s a fact that the group isn’t the same without him but the melody has not changed. He has left some big shoes to fill but we are determined to fill them.”
The Shabalala family has revealed that they are in the process of turning Joseph’s home into a museum where all his awards, albums and accolades will be displayed to ensure his legacy is kept alive.
Rest in peace, Joseph and thank you for the music.
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