African Rhythms Rock

giyabathanda labafana! Pardon my Zulu. That mouthful means "I love these guys," something I learned on the website for Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the popular all-male South African a capella ensemble. Even if you don't love these guys yet, you've at least heard them harmonize on the commercial for LifeSaaaavas. Or perhaps you've listened to Paul Simon's album Graceland. Yep, that's Ladysmith Black Mambazo singing with Garfunkel's better half.

Next Thursday, the ten men of Ladysmith Black Mambazo arrive at the Carolina Theater for a show not to be missed. Their silky smooth, rich melodies, combined with their energetic presence, make for a perfect evening of South African music and culture.

But before you hit South Africa, make a stop in Senegal with Baaba Maal. As part of the Institute of the Arts' Living Tradition Series, Maal will perform 11 new songs on acoustic guitar tonight at 8pm in Page Auditorium. Hailing from a town of 6,000 in Senegal, Maal incorporates the musical traditions and instruments of all of West Africa in his latest album Missing You (Mi Yeewnii), on which he moves away from the Western fusion elements typical of his previous albums. Produced by John Leckie (Radiohead) in the open air of Mbunk, Senegal, the recordings subtly capture the natural sounds of crickets and passers-by, and Maal's live performance tonight is bound to carry with it the same emotional roots.

Spice up your musical horizon of John Mayer and Weezer and take a journey this week through Africa with Maal and Mambazo.


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