FIVE-TIME Grammy Award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo, alongside the Joburg City Theatres (JCT), announced a partnership which will honour the success of the legendary group’s vocal style of isicathamiya which has enjoyed global prominence for over sixty (60) years.
The launch event included a special performance of a repertoire of the group’s hits such as Homeless, Mbube and Nomathemba, to a cheering audience which reflected how Ladysmith Black Mambazo had endured itself in the hearts of South Africans over the years.
Mshengu – The Musical will premiere at the Soweto Theatre, the heartbeat of Soweto’s cultural economy, from the 13 to 29 September 2019.
Penned by the genius of Sandile Ngidi and directed by multi-talented funny man, Desmond Dube, the producers announced that they would be hosting auditions on Wednesday the 17th of July at Soweto Theatre as well as 18th of July at the Joburg Theatre.
Xolani Majozi, the driving force behind the production, said that everyone with talent, can come along to the auditions and become part of paying tribute through vibrant acting, music and dance, to a formidable legacy.
“The story of Joseph Bhekizizwe Shabalala is the story of stubborn dreams. It is about an intrepid African poet of song whose vision to make music an instrument of peace, turned him into a global icon and ambassador of South Africa’s vast and diverse musical and cultural heritage.”
Born in 1940 on a white-owned farm, barely eight years before the rise to power of the Nationalist Party and the official introduction of apartheid, Joseph Shabalala had a difficult childhood.
Like scores of blacks in a country in which they were daily subjected to gross human rights violations, Joseph learnt early on that he belonged to a people and race that had been dispossessed of their land and human freedoms.
Like all children of parents who worked and lived on white-owned farms at the time, as a child he was conscripted into farm labour, and experienced the often dehumanizing conditions that characterized the lives of black farm workers.
Ultimately, this is the story of the man behind the majestic musical phenomenon known as the Ladysmith Black Mambazo that is at the heart of the musical, Mshengu – the father of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
How does one really begin to capture the story that spans seven decades, a journey that says so much about the power of stubborn dreams, and how one man relentlessly sought to bring unity and respect for all humanity irrespective of colour, race, creed and geographic borders? What is this music genre now commonly known as cothoza?
How did one visionary ambassador of song turn, what was once, just another countryside folk sound into a magnetic and world renowned musical heartbeat?
“Joburg City Theatres (JCT) operate on the premise of honouring our indigenous cultures and legends as a custodian of African heritage within the arts; as well as cultivating new critical voices through developing local youth with skills sets direct from seasoned practitioners,” says Soweto Theatres General Manager, Nomsa Mazwai.
“This partnership with this phenomenal group fits perfectly with our vision of the arts and culture industries which are pivotal in their role as ambassadors of South African culture as rich in diversity and alive with possibilities for all its people, and more importantly the next generation.”
‘You simply cannot afford to miss this extravaganza as we take you on the dazzling journey of Joseph Bhekizizwe Shabalala and the trailblazing Ladysmith Black Mambazo’.
Image Jacob MAWELA (Multi Grammy Award winning South African Isicatamiya musical outfit, Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed at the media launch of Mshengu, The Musical – at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein).