Correction appended.

When Winsome Marcia Chunnu first watched Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform live, she could not sit down.

“It was high energy. There’s a lot of movements and the way they harmonize is amazing,” Chunnu, the strategic director for diversity and inclusion and multicultural programs and initiatives, said. “For most of the concert, I was standing.”

If You Go

What: Ladysmith Black Mambazo
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium
Admission: $15 for students, $22 for senior citizens and $25 for general admission

In celebration of Black History Month, the Grammy award-winning South African musical group Ladysmith Black Mambazo will return to Athens as part of Ohio University’s Performing Arts and Concert Series. 

The group will perform at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Admission is $15 for OU students, $22 for senior citizens and $25 for general admission. The event is co-sponsored by various organizations including OU’s multicultural center. 

Ladysmith Black Mambazo began in the early '60s in the city of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the namesake and home of many members of the group, according to its website. The word “black” in the group’s name refers to oxens, and the word “mambazo” is a Zulu word which means chopping axe, referring to the group members’ vocal strength. 

The music performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo is based on a type of South African traditional music named isicathamiya, which originated in the mines of South Africa and was developed by black workers who were given poor working conditions. The workers would gather together and sing as a form of entertainment.

Since its inception, the group has recorded with various artists including Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson. The members have also performed for movie soundtracks like Disney’s The Lion King

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has won Grammy awards in 1988, 2004, 2009, 2013 and 2018. In 2017, the singing group was nominated for Grammy awards for its albums Peace and Love for Kids & Parents Around the World and Shaka Zulu Revisited

“They are a world-renowned group, so they’ve traveled extensively all around the world performing,” Chunnu said. “It’s an honor to have them in Athens.”

Alex Bucaro, a sophomore studying communication, sometimes listens to South African music and said it sounds different from common pop music songs because classic instruments are used more often instead of technology.

“I feel like it’s more original,” she said. “I like it.”

Bucaro is interested in attending the event and watching the group perform. The different music genre would attract a different crowd, and it would be an interesting experience to watch Ladysmith Black Mambazo live, she said.

“I’ve been to some of the country concerts and they were fun,” Bucaro said. “But I bet a different group would be interested in going to see a whole different genre.”

Chunnu describes the lineup in the performing arts series as a learning experience. If the performance is by an international group, it’s an opportunity for the international population in Athens to support and enjoy the show and also for the domestic population to learn about other countries and vice versa. 

“It’s part of what we strive to expose our students, faculty staff and community members to,” she said.

Chunnu said she’ll be attending the event Friday and is excited to watch Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform live again.

“I’m just looking forward to being in the space and experiencing that high energy, very uplifting, but also educational moment again,” she said.


Correction: A previous version of this report misstated Ladysmith Black Mambazo's name. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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