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Jockey Shabalala remembered - Jockey Shabalala remembered

2006-07-13 16:24

Download an MP3 featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo - free to all

The "Black Hammer of Ladysmith" are regarded not only as musical icons, but cultural ones. According to the website "It is Ladysmith Black Mambazo who has come to represent the traditional culture of South Africa. They are regarded as South Africa's cultural emissaries at home and around the world. In 1993, at Nelson Mandela's request, Black Mambazo accompanied the future President to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Mambazo sang again at President Mandela's inauguration in May of 1994. They are a national treasure of the new South Africa in part because they embody the traditions suppressed in the old South Africa."

"...In the early years, Joseph recruited members of his family, and friends - brothers Headman and Jockey, cousins Albert and Abednego Mazibuko, and others."

A posting on the group's weblog remembers Jockey: "With deep sadness we must inform you that our dear brother, Jockey Shabalala, passed away on February 11th at his home in South Africa. His family was with him at his time of passing. Jockey, brother to group founder and leader Joseph Shabalala, joined Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the 1960's. He had been with the group through the joyous times of "Graceland" and toured and recorded with the group up until late 2004. At that time Jockey decided to retire from international travel to spend more time with family at home. He was still performing with Mambazo in South Africa .

Jockey, aged 62, was a joy filled person. Anyone who came into contact with him left his presence with a smile. Jockey never took for granted the opportunities that came his way by being part of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and took great pride in the work the group had done over the past 45 years.

We are reminded of his thoughts expressed to us a few years ago. At that time Jockey said "Such a life I have lived. I could never have imagined this for me when I was a young man in South Africa. All the places I've traveled and people I've met. I have been so blessed."

Quick trivia:
- Joseph Shabalala says that they first developed the distinctive LBM sound in 1964, based on traditional Iscathamiya - and a dream he had (!)
- The group appeared on radio in 1970, which led to a recording contract
- Their first US-release, "Shaka Zulu" was produced by Paul Simon and won a Grammy in 1987
- Aside from many other prestigious events, the group has performed at two Nobel prize ceremonies.

- Anton Marshall

The SA music scene was saddened this week with the news that Jockey Shabalala, member of world-famous a capella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, had passed away. He was 62.
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