South African ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo to hold master class at UIC

five-time Grammy-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo vocal ensemble
UIC School of Theatre and Music will host a master class with the five-time Grammy-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo vocal ensemble. Photo courtesy of Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Theatre and Music will be hosting a master class for students, faculty and members of the media with the five-time Grammy-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo vocal ensemble.


Monday, Nov. 18
2-3:30 p.m.


UIC Theatre Room L280
1044 W. Harrison St.


With a discography that includes dozens of albums, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is considered South Africa’s most popular vocal ensemble. The group, which will be featured in an upcoming production at Steppenwolf Theatre, will be presenting a master class at UIC that will consist of a performance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and a class on the group’s history and singing style.

Louis Bergonzi, UIC’s head of music, said the group was invited as part of its course, “Music and Career Forum,” to increase students’ perspectives on the way music and musicians operate with contemporary society on a global scale.

“To have this internationally honored group be a part of our students’ course experience is extraordinary,” Bergonzi said. “Having Ladysmith Black Mambazo at UIC is a powerful opportunity for our students and the UIC community to learn of the rich history of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and to hear their music that is such an important dimension of South Africa’s musical culture.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo also will be featured in Steppenwolf Theatre’s upcoming production of “Lindiwe,” written and co-directed by Eric Simonson, which features Yasen Peyankov, UIC’s head of theatre. Peyankov, who is also a UIC associate professor and a Steppenwolf Theatre featured ensemble member, invited the ensemble to UIC.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has collaborated and recorded with icons of American Pop music, including Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, Emmylou Harris, and Melissa Etheridge. Their musical collaboration on Paul Simon’s album “Graceland” was culturally significant in introducing South African music to American Pop culture during the 1980s.

The group’s music derives from a South African traditional music called isicathamiya (is-cot-a-ME-Ya). Isicathamiya music often is made up of mostly basses, several tenors and a lead vocalist. According to Joseph Shabalala, founder of the group, this music historically was sung by “poorly housed and paid worse” Zulu migrant workers after a six-day workweek as a way to entertain themselves.

The sound of their music is harmonious and energetic, and many critics agree it is a spiritual experience. The core mission of Ladysmith Black Mambazo is to spread love and peace around the world through their music.

Limited RSVPs here. The master class is open to the media. If the media wishes to attend, please contact Carlos Sadovi at

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