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On the Beat: South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mombazo heads to Iowa City this Tuesday


Ladysmith Black Mombazo
Ladysmith Black Mombazo head to the Englert Theatre this week. — photo via Ladysmith Black Mombazo

Ladysmith Black Mombazo

Englert Theatre — Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. ($25-35)

Ladysmith Black Mombazo (LBM) is a band that is well-known throughout the globe, and come this Tuesday, they’ll be in Iowa City. Having existed for 50+ years, they might be best known for assisting Paul Simon in recording his seminal album Graceland, which merged South African rhythms with his considerate songwriting. This collaboration launched LBM into the global consciousness, a space from which they have never left. A four-time Grammy award winner, LBM has been able to spread the message of peace and unity as well as the history of South Africa across the globe.

Ladysmith Black Mombazo’s chosen form is isicathamiya, which is a form of a capella music. This traditional form of South African music is blended with Christian gospel music. While some of their music does speak to Christian themes, much of it speak to the humanity that we all share, advocating for a more peaceful world.

In addition to their own music, Ladysmith Black Mombazo has a grasp of popular secular music as well. They have covers of songs from artists such as Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers into their sets. While it can be a questionable move for a band to do covers, these songs only help to better connect Ladysmith Black Mombazo into the global music community, making their presence and message even more vital. This show should have plenty for those that are fans of world music, especially African music.

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