R.I.P to Joseph Shabalala: Founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder, Joseph Shabalala, 78, died on Tuesday morning at Life Eugene Marais in Pretoria, confirmed by group manager Xolani Majozi. Majozi said Shabalala was with his wife, Thokozile Shabalala, during his last moments. 

“Yes it’s true. Mr Shabalala passed on this morning. The group (Ladysmith Black Mambazo) is on tour in the US, but they have been informed and are devastated because the group is family.” 

Majozi said Shabalala’s family would issue an official statement later in the day. 

Over the past few years Shabalala’s health deteriorated, resulting in him retiring from the group in 2014.  Earlier this year, Shabalala was admitted to hospital due to ill health, and those close to him asked fans to keep him in their prayers. 

In 2017, Shabalala was admitted to hospital after his health took a nosedive after he underwent spine surgery and “struggled” to get back on his feet. 

“He is old now. We were worried when he went in for the operation, and are still very concerned because he is sick, but he is getting stronger,” spokesperson Sandile Khumalo said at the time. 

Although Shabalal officially handed over leadership of Ladysmith Black Mambazo to his son Sibongiseni about three years ago, the star occasionally made appearances with the group at events. Khumalo said Shabalala’s ailing health meant he was no longer able to travel or attend events with the group.

A life changing moment for Joseph and the group happened in 1986, when Paul Simon travelled to South Africa to collaborate with local artists for his Graceland album.

Paul and Joseph formed a special and well-documented bond when the group and he composed the now-famous song, Homeless. After that the group’s popularity spread all over the globe, and since then they have sold records popular enough to earn platinum disc certification.

In 1987, the group won their first Grammy for Shaka Zulu. There is no doubt that Joseph Shabalala and the Ladysmith Black Mambazo are the most accomplished musicians in Africa. They were the original game-changers, ICONIC AND LEGENDARY… REST IN PEACE TO JOSEPH SHABALALA

These are some of the accolades he achieved with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Awards and nominations

Awards

1981 SARIE Award Best Choral Group on Disc
1988 Grammy Award Best Traditional Folk Recording Shaka Zulu
1993 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Music in a Play The Song of Jacob Zulu (stage)
1996 Drama Desk Award Best Original Music Score Nomathemba (stage)
1997 SAMA Award Best Zulu Music Album Ukuzala-Ukuzelula
1997 SAMA Award Best Duo or Group Award Ukuzala-Ukuzelula
2001 SAMA Award Best Zulu Music Album Lihl’ Ixhiba Likagogo
2004 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Raise Your Spirit Higher
2008 SAMA Award Best Traditional A Cappella Album Ilembe
2009 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu
2013 Grammy Award Best World Music Album Live: Singing for Peace Around the World
2018 Grammy Award Best World Music Album Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration

Nominations

1988 Grammy Award Best Traditional Folk Recording Shaka Zulu
1991 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Classic Tracks
1993 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Best of – Vol. 1
1995 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Liph’ Iqiniso
1995 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Gift of the Tortoise
1996 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Thuthukani Ngoxolo
1998 Grammy Award Best Contemporary World Music Album Heavenly
1999 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Live at the Royal Albert Hall
2001 Academy Award Best Short Documentary Film On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom
2002 Emmy Award Best Cultural Documentary On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom
2005 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Raise Your Spirit Higher
2006 Grammy Award Best Contemporary World Music Album No Boundaries
2007 Grammy Award Best Contemporary World Music Album Long Walk to Freedom
2007 Grammy Award Best Surround Sound Production Long Walk to Freedom
2009 Grammy Award Best Traditional World Music Album Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu
2013 Grammy Award Best World Music Album Live: Singing for Peace Around the World
2016 Grammy Award Best World Music Album Ladysmith Black Mambazo with Ella Spira & The Inala Ensemble
2018 Grammy Award Best World Music Album Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration

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