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Let us tell you a story. An impossible to believe, yet, true story. Once upon a time there was a teenage boy working on his family farm in apartheid South Africa. The year was 1960. This boy loved to sing, in fact he loved to sing so much that he allowed himself an impossible dream. In his dream he would create a group of singers, from his family members, to sing traditional South African songs. His group would perform all over South Africa and they would become the greatest music group his country would ever know. How could such a dream come to a young farm boy in a country rife with hardship, violence and trouble? Well, Joseph Shabalala was this young farm boy and his dream would become Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The year 2023 marks the 63rd anniversary of Joseph Shabalala forming Ladysmith Black Mambazo. His group would not only conquer all of South Africa, but would become a worldwide phenomenon, winning more GRAMMY Awards (Five), and receiving more GRAMMY Award nominations (Nineteen), than any World Music group in the history of recorded music. During the dark years of South African Apartheid, Ladysmith Black Mambazo followed a path of peaceful protest through songs of hope and love. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison, in 1990, he said that Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music was a powerful message of peace that he listened to while in jail. When Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1993, he asked the group to join him at the ceremony. It was Mandela who called Ladysmith Black Mambazo “South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the World.”
The group sings a traditional music style called isicathamiya (Is-Cot-A-Mee-Ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa. It was there that black workers were taken to work far away from their homes and families. Poorly housed and paid, the mine workers would entertain themselves, after a six-day work week, by singing songs into the wee hours on Saturday night and Sunday. When the miners returned to their homes, this musical tradition returned with them.
In the mid-1980s, American singer/songwriter Paul Simon famously visited South Africa and incorporated the group’s rich harmonies into his renowned Graceland album – a landmark recording considered seminal in introducing World Music to mainstream audiences. This brought the group to the attention of music lovers all over the world, the beginning of a global musical career that shows no sign of ending.
After leading his group for over fifty years and approaching his seventy-fifth birthday, Joseph Shabalala retired in 2014, handing the leadership to his three sons, Thulani, Sibongiseni and Thamsanqa Shabalala. Having joined their father’s group in 1993, their many years of training had prepared them in ways no others could be trained. Now, carrying their father’s dream into the future, the Shabalala Family continues the group’s success for the world to hear. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is Thulani Shabalala, Sibongiseni Shabalala, Thamsanqa Shabalala, Msizi Shabalala, Albert Mazibuko, Abednego Mazibuko, Mfanafuthi Dlamini, Pius Shezi and Sabelo Mthembu.
Note that the event producer and Artist may change dates, times, and/or venues depending on the current COVID-19 environment. Ticket buyers will be updated by the Academy Center of the Arts staff, should any change to schedule or venue occurs.
Academy Member Presale begins Monday, November 27, 2023. Remaining tickets will be released to the public on Friday, December 1, 2023. All sales begin at 10 AM EST.
Academy Members Level 5+ Pre-Sale: Monday, November 27, 2023
Academy Members Level 4+ Pre-Sale: Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Academy Members Level 3+ Pre-Sale: Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Academy Members Level 1+ Pre-Sale: Thursday, November 30, 2023
General Public On-Sale: Friday, December 1, 2023
Standard Seat: $24.00*
Premium Seat: $34.00*
Value Seat: $20.00*
Obstructed Seat: $15.00*
Box Seat: $53.00*
Pit Seat: $43.00*
*Plus taxes and fees
For more information or to purchase tickets to this performance, contact our Bank of the James Ticketing Office at (434) 846-8499.
All patrons, regardless of age, must have a ticket for this event unless otherwise stated. All ages are welcome.
Videography and audio recording during the performances are prohibited. Photography of the set on stage is allowed pre-show, post-show, and during intermission. But we do ask that you show our designers and visiting performers some love by crediting them (and by tagging us) in your social media posts.
The Academy Center of the Arts offers a diverse selection of entertainment. Not all productions may appeal to or be appropriate for every guest or for all ages. Ticket buyers should take responsibility for making informed decisions regarding their purchases. We recommend visiting the official show website of each show you are coming to see at the Academy. If you ever have questions about the content or appropriateness of a show, please contact us at [email protected].
Our lobby doors open 60 minutes prior to show time. House doors open 30 minutes prior to show time for seating.
Parking is available on-site and throughout downtown Lynchburg. Our parking map (linked below) shows all of the free public and paid parking available. In addition, street parking is also available on most streets.
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Want to volunteer and see this show for free? Contact Mele Thompson, [email protected], for more information.