The founder of famed South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo is scaling down his activities with the group at age 73, according to manager Xolani Majozi.
Joseph Shabalala, the former farmboy who started the group after the idea came to him in his dreams, has decided to take it easy, Majozi said on Tuesday.
“Because of his age — he is now 73 — we want him to relax a bit, not to be involved in intensive tours like now when the Mambazo are taking a three-months tour,” Majozi said.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo was catapulted to global fame for their collaboration with Paul Simon on the hugely successful album Graceland in 1986.
They went on to win three Grammys and record with legends Stevie Wonder, Ben Harper and Michael Jackson.
They are nominated for a fourth Grammy this year in the world music category for their album Singing for Peace Around the World.
Shabalala is staying behind as the group travels to the United States, electing instead to spend more time at home in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
He did however sing at a concert in memory of Nelson Mandela last December.
“He can still perform, but we don’t want to overwork him. We think he has done his part, we want him now to enjoy the fruits of his hard work,” said Majozi.
But the maestro’s legacy continues in Mambazo, since several of his sons and 23-year-old grandson Babuyile are part of the 12 singers who still tour the world.
Shabalala, who started singing when he was 25, composed a musical that debuts at the State Theatre in the South African capital Pretoria on April 17.