What does the latest Grammy award mean to you?
It means so much. The American music industry is the biggest and most important in the world. For them to vote our album Shaka Zulu Revisited the Best World Music Album of 2017, making it our fifth Grammy award, says to us that we’re still doing it right. We’re still at the top of what we do. Sometimes people ask if winning another Grammy is boring. What? Our group has been doing what we do for over 50 years. So many groups come and go, never to be heard from again. We don’t want to be that type of group. We plan to be around for decades more.
How do you continue to produce timeless music?
The first thing is to love what you do. We have never lost the love of what we sing. Then, we know it needs to be special. We have this opportunity to share our singing with the world. We must make the recordings important and beautiful. We know we represent our country of South Africa. Every album is like the Olympics for us. We want to make our country proud.
What is the message behind your music?
Peace, love and harmony. Our message has never changed. We want to bring people together through music. We remember that 20 years ago we were asked to perform in Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the first time. That place was still having terrible problems. We thought ‘hey, our country had terrible problems but we changed. We started to respect each other and work together. Sure, it’s not perfect yet but it’s getting there’. We thought it was important to sing for people in Belfast to show them that peace and love were the true way to live together. This is what our music is for.
What was the reason behind honoring founding member Joseph Shabalala with Shaka Zulu Revisited?
Joseph taught us everything we know and Ladysmith Black Mambazo continues to be a success because of him. When he retired in 2014 he handed the group to his four sons, who originally joined the group in 1993. He said: “Boys, it is in your hands now. Take care of it and keep the respect.” Since 2017 was the 30th Anniversary of the great Shaka Zulu album, we wanted to re-record it to honor what Joseph has accomplished over the past 30 years… We care for each other and everyone’s family. We also fully believe in our mission of spreading peace and love through music.
You have maintained a unique African sound without compromise. How?
It’s who we are. It’s what Joseph Shabalala wanted his group to be. Staying true to culture; to history; to the origins of this music. We don’t change with the times, incorporate new styles. Sure, we like to work with other people and integrate our style of singing with others, however, when it comes to our music, we stay true to our roots.
What does the future look like for Ladysmith Black Mambazo?
More albums, more concert touring, more singing for peace, love and harmony and dare we say it, more Grammy awards!
Do you believe musicians can change the world with music?
Absolutely, music knows no boundaries, nor borders. Music brings people together. Music heals, music helps. Music flows through all societies and links us as one world.