Ladysmith Black Mambazo brings historic melodies to Hawaii Theatre

Jamie Winpenny

HONOLULU—South African vocal legends Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been booked to grace Hawaii Theatre with the isicathamiya and mbube sounds that they’ve introduced to people throughout the world for half a century.

“It can be a complicated house,” says Tim Bostock, speaking of the Hawaii Theatre. “That’s because it’s a concert hall and a museum.” Bostock is the mastermind behind dozens of major concert and theatrical performances in Hawaii, including many at Hawaii Theatre. In conjunction with Performing Arts Presenters Hawaii, Bostock is producing the Ladysmith Black Mambazo performance there on Friday, January 28.

The group was formed in the early 1960s, melding native South African musical traditions with Christian gospel sensibilities. They catapulted to international fame after collaborating with Paul Simon on his seminal mid-1980s album Graceland, and have played for the likes of Pope John Paul II and Quenn Elizabeth II.  Their music has been featured in countless Hollywood movies, and they have received 15 Grammy Award nominations, winning three times.

Friday’s concert has been two years in the making, as appearances by internationally acclaimed artists often are. “It can sometimes take longer,” adds Bostock. Scheduling, marketing, and contractual concerns tend to be drawn out processes when the parties involved are on opposite sides of the world. “The last thing we secure is accommodations, because if you try to make reservations a year in advance, most hotels will simply forget about you or change their rate.”

Things fell into place for the Ladysmith Black Mambazo show in mid-2010, in time for the event to be featured in various venue and promoter calendars. The group will also be performing at the Kahilu Theatre on Hawaii Island and at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.

Bostock explains that producing a mini-tour for the South African vocal group was relatively easy because Ladysmith Black Mambazo needs so little technical support. They are, after all, an a cappella vocal ensemble. The lighting and sound at Hawaii Theatre will certainly be impeccable, although their powerful rhythms and harmonies need little in the way of embellishment.

“They even bring their own microphones,” laughs Tim Bostock.

Tickets to Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s performance at Hawaii Theatre on Friday have sold out, but the group will be performing at Brigham Young University in Laie on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. and tickets for that show are still available.

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For tickets to Ladysmith Black Mambazo at BYU in Laie, click here