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Joseph Shabalala dies at 78

Joseph Shabalala, the founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, has died. He was 78 years old.

Joseph Shabalala

Shabalala died on Tuesday morning at a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, writes NME.

Shabalala and South African choral group acquired international acclaim but had retired from touring in 2014.

The group wrote on Twitter: “Our Founder, our Teacher and most importantly, our Father left us today for eternal peace. We celebrate and honor your kind heart and your extraordinary life."

“Through your music and the millions who you came in contact with, you shall live forever.”

Their album 'Amabutho' became Africa’s first gold-selling album and in 1986, the choir joined Paul Simon on 'Graceland' and a subsequent world tour.

The collaboration with Simon continued as Shabalala co-wrote ‘Homeless’ and ‘Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes’ with Simon. Simon also produced three of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s albums – including the 1987 album, 'Shaka Zulu'.

Over the years, the group won four Grammys for Best World Music Album and was described by Nelson Mandella as “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors to the world.”

The group also appeared in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and appeared with many other artists over the years including Dolly Parton, Josh Groban, Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris and more.

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