Joseph Shabalala; music maestro, leader and founder of the Grammy-award winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Durban University of Technology on Tuesday 21 April 2015.
Shabalala will be honoured during the Faculty of Arts and Design’s graduation ceremony to be held at the Steve Biko Campus’s fred Crookes Sports Centre.
The ceremony will be the 16th graduation ceremony to take place out of a total of 18 that will be held this April.
Honorary Doctorates are in recognition of the work that prominent South Africans have shown in the country. Shabalala’s Honorary Doctorate will acknowledge his contribution to the arts, a platform he started engaging in since the tender age of 12.
In 1964, Shabalala formed the legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a group that specialises in Isicathamiya (a traditional Zulu choral music that derived the singings of the men who worked in South African gold mines during apartheid). In its music, the group sends out messages using soaring bass, alto and tenor harmonies.
While growing up, Shabalala was the eldest in his family and had to provide for his younger brothers. He was first spotted by the Durban Choir after the audience was impressed with his guitar skills and soprano voice. His very first song was Nomathemba which was made into a play in 1995. His first recording contract was with Gallo Music in 1972. Today, the group focuses on alleviating social ills that face South Africa.
Shabalala and his group won a number of awards and have been recognised all over the world. Some of the titles they have won are Best Producer, Best Composer, Best Lead Singer, World Best Traditional Music Composer and SA Best Producer.
Shabalala has received a number of awards from the SABC, the South African Music Awards, Africa Awards and the South African Government. He has also been honored by other universities. His group made several appearances in adverts, movies and documentaries. He has performed with the likes of Michael Jackson, Lucky Dube, Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Eddie Murphy, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, to name a few.
– Noxolo Memela
Pictured: Joseph Shabalala (in front) with the rest of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo crew.