November 11, 1990
About Scot Tempesta's Oct. 28 letter, which charges that Paul Simon has "ripped off" other cultures in his songs: By Mr. Tempesta's logic, we should close all the museums; they rip off ancient and foreign cultures. Charley Pride, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Yo-Yo Ma and Johnny Clegg all have drawn from music and cultural styles outside their own origins. Rip-off? No way. These men are making great contributions to those styles and have greatly enriched the world of music. Mr. Tempesta, your thinly veiled attempt to somehow connect Simon's "Graceland" project with black exploitation or apartheid is wrong-minded.
October 5, 1990 |
Two things are immediately striking as hosts Spike Lee and Debbie Allen roam the streets of New York in search of perfect four-part and six-part and 12-part harmony in "Spike & Co.: Do It A Cappella," the premiere installment of the 18th season of PBS' "Great Performances" series (tonight at 9 on Channels 28, 15 and 24; 9 p.m. Saturday on Channel 50).
September 22, 1990 |
Ever since Paul Simon brought them out of Africa and exposed them to the Western world on his 1986 "Graceland" album and subsequent world tour, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been cultivating a growing international following. They've released three albums for the world market, with particularly good sales in Germany, England, Canada and Australia. And they've been touring incessantly, on their own, all over the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and, most recently, Japan.
June 17, 1990 |
A sense of purpose and deeply rooted humanity permeates this album. You can hear it on "Rejoice," a touchingly soothing expression of spirituality, and on "Township Jive," a song that celebrates life even in the face of crushing adversity. Led by Joseph Shabalala, this nine-member group from South Africa sings with an expressiveness that can move you even when it's in a language you don't understand.
November 20, 1989 |
It's appropriate that Ladysmith Black Mambazo's next album is titled "Journey of Dreams." It's hard to imagine a more fanciful trip into international pop celebrity than that taken by the 10-man a cappella Zulu group from Durban, South Africa, which appeared at Caltech's Beckman Auditorium on Friday. But even if Paul Simon had not spotlighted the group on "Graceland," it's likely Ladysmith would have still gained attention.
May 13, 1989 |
The rich, infectious singing style of Thokoza may have an exotic name-- ingom'esbusku --but the South African harmonies are familiar to American music lovers. The four women who make up Thokoza (Zulu for happiness) are accompanied by traditional drums, and the band Bayeza (they are coming) which re-creates the bouncy, guitar-driven sound of South Africa's black townships. The result, punctuated by distinctly African ululations and the "click sounds" of the Zulu language, hints of the call-and-response style of American gospel, the emotion of blues and the energy of jazz improvisation.
February 22, 1989 |
"Sarafina!" the stage musical dramatizing the student uprising in Soweto in 1976 performed by a troupe of young black South African schoolchildren, has not yet come to Los Angeles. It's been busy being a hit in Manhattan since 1987. But you can get a taste of its crackling energy and the heroic commitment of its cast in "Voices of Sarafina!"
September 23, 1988 |
Joseph Shabalala stood on a North Hollywood rehearsal stage earlier this week fine-tuning the 10 voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo for an American tour that opens tonight at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.