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Peace and happiness: Our message in song

PUBLISHED: 17:02 25 November 2009 | UPDATED: 17:26 16 August 2010

ONE OF the singers from Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM) - the band Nelson Mandela dubbed South Africa s cultural ambassadors -

ONE OF the singers from Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM) - the band Nelson Mandela dubbed 'South Africa's cultural ambassadors' - speaks to the Reporter following a unique gig.

Albert Mazibuko performed with his Grammy-award-winning a cappella group on Sunday at The Orchard theatre, in Home Gardens, Dartford.

LBM rocketed to fame after appearing on Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland and their powerful voices have been heard on everything from Stevie Wonder records to Heinz Beans adverts.

Mr Mazibuko, now 61-years-old, said of his current two-month UK tour: "We are nearly there now, just a week or so to go. It feels good when you're nearing the finish line. You start thinking about home again.

" I enjoy the whole process. I always look forward to it. It's a time when I get to read, to spend time with people I love and sing every night. I noticed when I was in Scotland and in Wales that the audiences are much better singers! They are quite quiet in the South."

The traditional 'isicathamiya' music that LBM sing was born in the mines of South Africa at beginning of the century.

Mr Mazibuko said: "My father was in the mines and he was always singing. But so were the rest of my family - my mother, my aunts, when they would go to collect water. Music was always with me."

In 1993, at Nelson Mandela's request, the band accompanied the future president when he went to collect his Nobel Peace Prize in Norway and they sang again at his inauguration in 1994.

He fondly remembered: "He was always inviting us to his home, saying 'bring LBM over here, I need to be with them'.

"When we first met him at his birthday party in 1990 he said that our music was an inspiration for him while he was in jail - that's what got him though. He had a strong emotional attachment to the music."

Reflecting on LBM's huge career, Mr Mazibuko said: "To me it only seems like yesterday that it all began. I look back and I cannot believe it has been 40 years. I think it's because people still love our music and get excited by it. That gives us the strength to go forward and do new things.

"I our message still resonates; we stand for peace and happiness and that message does not grow old.

"I am getting old, but I will never stop doing this. I will carry on singing until I drop dead. It is my love."

lizzie.thornton@archant.co.uk

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