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November 18, 1987 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-11-18

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Wednesday. November 18, 1987

The Michigan Daily







By Todd Shanker
Fresh from their thrilling Grace-
land tour with Paul Simon, Lady-
smith Black Mambazo will bring
their shimmering a cappella har-
monies and fleeting, figurative lyrics
to Hill Auditorium tonight.
Joseph Shabalala, lead singer and
spiritual leader of the South African
dectet, calls Black Mambazo's music
isicathamiya (loosely translated
"walking softly on the toes") and
claims their silky, bass-rich har-
monies arc as synchronized as "the
waves of the sea." Ladysmith Black
Mambazo consists of seven
sonorous basses that crisscross to
form a delicate harmonic foundation
that highlights their natural vocal
timbres, while Shabalala's sensual
lead vocals evoke an emotional
resonance that must be heard to be
Surprisingly, the South African
group strays away from overtly po-
litical lyrics and instead emphasizes
a sort of transcendental spirituality.
"We sing for all people because mu-
sic heals... when you are singing
you are free," Shabalala says.
Nevertheless, in his singing and
songwriting he captures with natural
choral majesty not only the anguish
of his countrymen but their bravery
in the face of horrific repression and
their capacity for exhilirating joy.
Shabalala's message can be read be-
tween his word and when projected



f. 10*


After that dream my cars started to
hear ; this note is wrong or this note
is out of tune."
Shabalala couldn't understand the
"strange language" of the dream, so
he says he made up his own lyrics to
go with the lush music. Alone and
yearning to go back home, he sang
about the beauty of personal memo-
ries and dreams as well as the righ-
teous roots of tribal tradition.
His first group was a gathering of
brothers and cousins called the Dur-
ban Choir. But it was not until 1969
that he perfected the sound of his
dreams with the formation of Lady-
smith Black Mambazo. Since that
time the Black Mambazo's 24 al-
bums have gone gold in South
Africa (25,000 sales) with some
turning double gold (50,000) and
platinum (75,(X)).
Shabalala also choreographs the
Black Mambazo's nimble dance rou-
tines. On the Graceland tour, the
group gained a reputation for their
sizzling stage show that highlighted
slick choreography. They also
brought wistful memories of the
slips and slides essayed by such
groupsnas the Four Tops and the
Temptations. Their irresistible dance
routines also include a synthesis of
Rockettes-style leg kicks and evoca-
tive Zulu mime. Referring to the
Graceland tour, Paul Simon once
said, "From the very first night they
were the darlings of the show." As
for the Mambazo's first encounter
with such Western-style audience
hysteria, Shabalala adds "I felt like I
was someone who was flying... the

way they clap their hands, I 4o
higher and higher."
Shabalala also enjoys the vast
music collection he has had access to
in the United States. He's just
learning about other outstandinlg
African groups and artists such Os
Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, and
Toure Kunda. Paul Simon has said
that Shabalala, like those artists, is
"an enormous cultural treasure, a
cultural gold mine." Since coming
to the U.S. the Mambazo's have
also released a greatest hits album
called Shaka Zulu (produced by Pail
Simon), and made a video with
Michael Jackson. They have also
recorded three other albums available
in the U.S. on the Shanachie
Records label.
Ladysmith Black Mambazols
music reflects celebration and
mourning. The group has been well
received everywhere on the tour and
tonight's performance promises to
be more of the same: engaging
South African music featuring ele-
gant vocals, graceful harmonies, and
unique, glittering choreography all
based on the tribal traditions and
spirituality of the people of Lady-
smith, South Africa. Shabalala tells
it like it is, "When we start to sing,
the people enjoy. They love obr
music. It soothes them."
BAZO will be performing at till
Auditorium tonight. Showtime is 8
p.m. The Bichinis Bia Congo Dance
Company will be opening. Tickejs
are $15 and can be purchased at the
Michigan Union ticket office and all
icketMaster outlets.

I adysmith Black Mambazo, the South African a cappella group, found fame in America when they appeared
on Paul Simon's 'Graceland' album. Now the vocal group has hit our shores on their own tour, which will
bring them to Hill Auditorium tonight.

against the ugly backdrop of South
Africa's apartheid regime.
Shabalala's music career started
when he left his hometown of Lady-
smith, South Africa in 1957 to go
to the city to find work in the dia-

mond and gold mines. It was there
that he started to have the "spiritual
dreams" which shaped his music for
years to come.
"I got my 'Teacher' from a
dream," he explains. "Every night I

would see this concert where children
were floating between the stage and
the sky, singing with their beautiful
voices. At first I thought God just
wanted me to be happy, but as time
went on I copied down their actions.

So you wanna

be a Michigan

By Scott Collins
One of the problems of being a
world-famous movie critic is that
admiring would-be writers constantly
hound you, hoping that you'll give
them some pointers on writing film
reviews, or maybe even offer them
their first break into the business. Of

course, I'm just guessing that this
must be one of the problems,
because I'm merely an unknown
film critic for a college paper that
misspells words in its headlines.
Still, I occasionally am pestered
by a persistent fan wanting some
free advice. Fat Al isn't the only one
around here who gets letters; take,
for example, this recent example:
Scott Collins-
You big phony! What right have
you to air out your half-baked
opinions on film every other
Wednesday? I normally wouldn't
bother to read your pompous
claptrap, but I find that your writing
reveals so much haughty ignorance
it's always good for a quick laugh.
Just how does the Daily choose film
ng about film, theater,
oks or dance?
e Daily
=0379 for

critics anyway? Do you cast lots?
-William S. Burroughs.
I sense some latent hostility in
that letter, probably occasioned by
the dignity of my reputation. Still, I
know that the writer was motivated
by some genuine questions about
film criticism, so I'm happy to
oblige with a brief primer on the ins
and outs of being a college film
1) Qualifications. Got a
major in film? Like talking about it?
Seen three movies in as many years?
Don't know a jump cut from a
corned beef sandwich? If one or more
of these apply, blow the dust off
your Smith-Corona and get ready to
work. Yes, the wonderful thing
about being a college film critic is
that, no matter how ignorant you
think you are, you know just as
much about film as any of your

readers. How can this be? Because
anyone who really knows something
about film wouldn't read you even if
it were potty time and your column
were the only printed material in
2) Perks. Well, I'm sorry to
say there really are none. This paper
prepares you for real life as a writer
- it pays you five dollars for every
article. Think about it: at that rate,
you'd have to churn out about 2000
articles a year to stay above the
poverty line.
It's true I've gotten a free pass to
the show now and then, but that's
hardly as much fun as standing
outside the exit door and waiting for
your friend to let you in, which was
my "free pass" when I was twelve.
And oh yes - a number of skinny
guys who major in English seem to
believe that writing will win them

)aily film
the attention of beautiful women.
Allow me to be the first to dispel
that myth. I've had this column for
three months now, and I still get
dirty looks from the women in my
classes. Maybe they don't read me.
Maybe they do. Which would be
3) Which brings us to
recognition. I don't get any. OK,
this piece is self-indulgent, but who
else will indulge me? Besides the
suspicion that my reviews don't
really influence anyone's opinion on
a movie, I'm not even capable of
generating some nasty letters to the
editor. I lied. Burroughs never wrote
to me, and neither has anyone else.
You know you're a nobody when
even the activists don't find you
4) Disavowal. Manhattan
sophisticates may swoon at the


mention of Pauline Kael, but if 'ou
write for the college paper yoci'd
better get used to either cold
indifference or general disapproval.
After you trash a very popular
movie, everyone including your dog
is going to think that there's
something wrong with you.
So if you want to be honest .ut
still have any peace at all, cultivate
anonymity, or at least keep a'fw
profile. After we accept your work
and let you write reviews, take a due
from me. Once, I overheard some
people talking about one of my by-
lines. At first, I was tempteduato
introduce myself and enter the
conversation, until I realized that
what they were saying was pretty
unfavorable. So I grabbed a paper,
pointed to my piece and said,
"What? Scott Collins again? I h ie
that ass!"



Interested in writi
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Prominent Washington D.C. Attorney
and Politics of Protest Before
the South African Embassy in
Washington - One Lawyer's View
THURSDAY 5:00 p.m.
Room 120 Hutchins Hall
(Law School)

Stop by and see a Jostens representative,
Monday, November 16- Friday, November 20,
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.,

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