INTERVIEW: Ladysmith Black Mambazo celebrates six decades of South African music.
Mambazo, a singing group from South Africa, will soon perform at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of the State Theatre / Provided with permission.
The singers of Ladysmith Black Mambazo are bonafide ambassadors of South African culture. For six decades they have been bringing the music of their nation around their own country and around the world, all with the hope of promoting peace, unity and fun.
Currently Ladysmith Black Mambazo is touring the United States, bringing their unique energy and their hopeful message to audience members both old and young. This tour is extra special because it honors the group’s 60th anniversary.
For South Africans, it was a different world back in the 1960s when Joseph Shabalala founded the group that would eventually become Ladysmith. The deadly and harsh realities of apartheid were taking hold, and decades of violence and unrest fell upon the nation.
According to the band’s official website, Shabalala was a farm boy turned factory worker, and his singing group’s namesake came from his hometown — Ladysmith, South Africa, located halfway between Durban and Johannesburg. Mambazo, according to press notes, is a Zulu word for chopping an axe, which is a symbol for the group’s beautifully rendered vocals.
One of the singers who has been with Ladysmith almost from the beginning is Albert Mazibuko, who has been with the group for more than 50 years and is a second cousin to Shabalala.
“I’m serving 51 years with the group,” Mazibuko said in a recent phone interview. “We all grew up in Ladysmith, South Africa. Joseph and I are second cousins, so we grew up in one home because Joseph’s father was raised by my grandfather. We were always together, and then we were living in one place and working on the farm. But he was 18 years older than me, so I was all the time following him because he has been my hero since I was a little boy.”
The new tour promises a mixture of the old and the new. Audience members will have the chance to hear some of the classic songs that have put Ladysmith on the map, perhaps even a selection or two off the Graceland album, their 1986 collaboration with Paul Simon. However, Mazibuko also said there are many new songs in the repertoire thanks to a recent collaboration with Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.
“Lots of new songs and also the favorites that we cannot leave behind,” Mazibuko said about the set list. “It’s going to be a great show. I’m so excited about the new songs that the guys put together because we were just doing a play in Chicago for the past three months, so there’s lots of good songs that have been written for that play. So we want to share that with our audience because we felt that they were beautiful songs. They have to be shared, and also we are celebrating our 60th anniversary this year for Mambazo. So, in short, it will be a lot of dancing, good music, some jokes. I hope everyone will enjoy that.”
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Two Icons, Jennifer Lopez & Shakira gave an EPIC Super Bowl Halftime performance.
After months of anticipation, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira finally shared the stage during the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show and they absolutely nailed it with their energetic performance and a medley of hits.
The pair took turns going through their singles, including Shakira’s “She Wolf,” “Empire,” “Whenever, Wherever,” and “Hips Don’t Lie;” and J.Lo’s “Jenny from the Block,” “Get Right,” and On the Floor.”
The set was not lacking in big dance numbers and fire works. Shakira showed off her guitar and drum skills, delivered a steamy dance solo, and then dived into the crowd. Meanwhile, J.Lo included a pole routine in her segment while performing “Waiting for Tonight,” paying homage to her widely celebrated role in “Hustlers“.
J.Lo and Shakira’s singing talent, provocative dance moves and their backup dancers who are just as fun to watch, made this years Super Bowl a highly memorable one.
Text excluding title courtesy Bellanaija.com.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates review – time traveller on the Underground Railroad.
Magical realism meets real life in the acclaimed journalist’s debut novel about American slaves escaping to the north
A former national correspondent for the Atlantic magazine, Ta-Nehisi Coates is among the most revered and widely read intellectuals in the US. His bleak but scintillating book about race, We Were Eight Years in Power (2017), was a passionate collection of essays focusing on the sharp divisions and overpowering emotions – from uplifting to ugly – that surfaced when Barack Obama became his country’s first black president. What white America fears most is black competence, Coates reasoned. Black excellence turns that fear into paranoia.
Coates alerted readers to his talents two years earlier with the National Book award-winning Between the World and Me, a letter to his then 14-year-old son in which he warned about the perils of being African American. It was acclaimed by Toni Morrison, who celebrated Coates as the long-awaited heir to James Baldwin.
Like Baldwin, Coates’s elegant nonfiction is haunted by the dark legacy of the American civil war. Little wonder, then, that slavery is the subject of his first novel.
As a cultural analyst, Coates is noted for his stylish prose, but here the writing is spare
In common with Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, which draws on the life of Harriet Jacobs, an enslaved woman who hid for years in a low-ceilinged attic in which she couldn’t stand, The Water Dancer makes use of a number of real-life narratives. For one, there are parallels between the protagonist, Hiram, and the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Born in Maryland to a raped, enslaved woman whom he barely remembered after she was sold to another plantation, Douglass was a child prodigy, famous for his extraordinary biography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which told of his escape from slavery to become a great orator and an advocate for emancipation.
Born on an antebellum plantation in Virginia named Lockless – whose community consists of the Quality (masters and mistresses) and the Tasked (enslaved) – Hiram is also the son of a slave master and slave, Rose, who is sold “down river”, leaving Hiram orphaned. Like Douglass, he is an exceptional child who has a gift for remembering everything. Everything, that is, except his own mother.
As a cultural analyst, Coates is noted for his stylish prose, but in The Water Dancer the writing is spare. Hiram considers slavery “a kind of fraud, which paints its executors as guardians at the gate, staving off African savagery”. Sophia, a fellow slave, who admires Hiram’s intellect, dreams of escaping with him: “We could go together. You are read and know of things far past Lockless.”
To escape they will need to evade the man-hunters, the trackers of runaways who “glorified in their power to reduce a man to meat”. The pornography of violence that characterised plantation life is approached with caution here and Coates’s descriptions of flogging – “upon the ocean of his back I saw the many voyages of [the overseer’s] whip” – are among the most memorable in the book. When Coates illuminates the degradations heaped upon recaptured runaways, he does so while ensuring they retain their dignity (“there were no chains… these men were more than bound, they were broken”).
The book’s title refers to an African folk tradition where women on plantations balanced jugs of water on their heads while dancing. In Coates’s telling, theirs is a ritual of remembrance, of the possibility of slipping the shackles of slavery, if not bodily then spiritually. Lockless’s dancers are the reincarnations of those captured Africans who managed to flee the slave ships by wading into the water “to sing and dance as they walked, that the water-goddess brought ’em here, and the water goddess would take ’em back home”. This fable-like quality informs much of the book.
As The Water Dancer progresses, it is increasingly shaped by the real-life saga of William Still’s The Underground Railroad Records (an 1872 book comprising the stories of slaves who escaped). Coates’s focus is on the strategies of the network of abolitionists who engineered passage of the enslaved from the “coffins” of southern plantations across the Mason-Dixon line to freedom in the north.
Having nearly drowned and been buried under a river, dug himself out, been recaptured and escaped again, Hiram joins forces with another character, the actual abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose daring rescues feature prominently. Like Tubman, Hiram is blessed with a supernatural gift called “conduction”, triggered by powerful emotions and enabling him to travel great distances.
The description of conduction is The Water Dancer’s greatest strength – the author’s method of fictionalising the mystery of Tubman’s out-of-body hallucinations.
During episodes of stress (especially when helping others escape plantations), Hiram, too, is a passenger in his own body. Distances collapse as the Underground Railroad agents travel back in time and jump into the future, the “jump” achieved by the power of their stories: “It pulls from all our lives and all of our losses. All that feeling is called up, and on the strength of our remembrances, we are moved,” says Hiram.
In The Water Dancer Coates is attempting his own conduction – to make the terrible past real for modern readers. As Hiram says at the end of the book: “To forgive was irrelevant, but to forget was death.”
Colin Grant’s most recent book is Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation (Jonathan Cape).
Black history month reminder: African American museums help preserve an often ignored history
Tinerria Gray of Baltimore, looks at a photograph of Martin Luther King framed with a copy of the Lincoln Memorial Program for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.
Tinerria Gray of Baltimore, looks at a photograph of Martin Luther King framed with a copy of the Lincoln Memorial Program for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)
An 1808 Certificate of Freedom for “Negro Betsey,” a slave who lived in Frederick, Maryland.
Jackie Copeland takes helm at Reginald Lewis museum, following unexpected retirement of Wanda Draper »
These artifacts could be found in any historical museum in the United States. But these authentic objects are part of the collections of African American museums in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. They are a source of pride, and a reflection of the resilience, ingenuity and courage that is the African American experience in this country.
As we enter Black History Month, it’s a good time to celebrate the role these museums play in preserving a past that isn’t always discussed in the history books. African American history, a vital part of American history, should be experienced during the entire year and not relegated to just one month.
While the oldest African American museum dates to 1868, it was the Civil Rights Movement that led to an increase in museums devoted to African American history and culture. One of the most significant, Montgomery, Alabama’s The National Memorial for Truth and Justice, opened in 2018. It includes the names of this country’s lynching victims engraved on 800 columns. In Maryland, the struggles and triumphs of African American Marylanders are chronicled in several African American museums throughout the state, including the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, which opened in 2005.
Like most of the more than 35,000 museums in the U.S., African American museums preserve, collect, document and interpret our culture. However, these 200 museums (less than 1% of all museums in this country) also do more than that — they present a narrative of an African American past that has been forgotten, overlooked, neglected, misinterpreted, whitewashed or erased from the history books. We tell our true histories — both harsh and celebratory — from our own perspectives, expanded by the research and discoveries of scholars and curators, many of them people of color.
Fans of the HBO series “Watchmen,” based on the ’80s D.C. Comics Series, watched the opening segment which featured a re-enactment of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, when white rioters killed black residents of Greenwood, an affluent African American community known as “The Black Wall Street.” Greenwood was destroyed, and although the event is preserved in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood Cultural Center, many viewers, both black and white, were surprised to learn of an event that rarely, if ever, appeared in history books.
African American museums (or any museum, for that matter) are safe places to explore and discuss our “shared” histories — the strife, hardships and suffering endured over the centuries. At our Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, the Reginald Lewis museum offered visitors a virtual reality tour of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, which took place the day before Dr. King’s assassination. The experience was so real for one visitor, a white woman, that she looked down at her hands and whispered, “I’m black.” At that moment we watched her experience our shared past.
As we uncover more artifacts and dig deeper into the complicated history of our country, African American museums continue to be chroniclers of the racial injustice, violence and poverty our ancestors experienced. Young visitors to the Reginald F. Lewis museum’s 2018 exhibition, Hateful Things, which featured racist Jim Crow memorabilia, said they had never seen stereotypical and derogatory images of African Americans. Older visitors had seen them first-hand, decades earlier. Many African American elders hold their stories silently, deep within their soul, and may never repeat them. But the stories of our elders, the gatekeepers of our knowledge and culture — the griots of our community — must be told and preserved.
The opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall was a seminal moment in our nation’s history. Decades in the making, it is testimony to the role of African Americans in the creation of this country — a beacon and monument to history and memory. Rather than diverting attention from smaller museums, its national presence has strengthened the role of African American museums throughout this country. It offers a celebration of the achievement of our culture, a vision for the future and an education for our children.
In the last sentence of founding director Lonnie Bunch’s book, “A Fool’s Errand,” Mr. Bunch writes, “Ultimately, what the National Museum of African American History and Culture has done is to use history and culture, to paraphrase Napoleon, to define reality and give hope.”
No one could have said it better.
Jamie Foxx tricks pre-Super Bowl gala crowd with ‘Beyoncé’
Jamie Foxx tricked an A-list crowd at a pre-Super Bowl show Saturday, telling them Beyoncé was about to perform.
“I’m going to go ahead and let it out of the bag right now: Beyoncé. Beyoncé,” he screamed as the guests at The Giving Fund’s Big Game Big Give event cheered. “Beyoncé from Fort Lauderdale. It’s not the one you were thinking, but still.”
Queen Bey was not at the gala, which was held at a $65 million waterfront home on Miami Beach’s exclusive Star Island, but in attendance were several other celebrities, including Cuba Gooding Jr., Keegan-Michael Key, model Karolina Kurkova and “Breaking Bad” co-stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul and famed filmmaker Michael Bay, who played host.
Foxx was playful all night, salsa dancing with the crowd, practicing his Spanish and telling everyone to get close because he smelled especially good that evening. But when the DJ played a club version of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” he soured.
“We want the original Whitney,” he said, before getting the audience to chant her name. The DJ quickly obliged and cued up her original hit.
Cranston and Paul made a toast to the New Year, with Cranston saying, “We have a lot of unfortunate things that have happened,” clearly referencing the late Kobe Bryant and encouraging everyone “to try to remember people who are with us now today.”
The event raised money for several charities, auctioning off sports memorabilia, last-minute Super Bowl tickets and a retreat on a private island in Belize.
Text courtesy magicvalley.com
RAPPER KING KAKA CALLS OUT OCTOPIZZO AND KHALIGRAPH TO FOLLOW SAUTISOL’S FOOTPATH
There was once a verbal war between rapper King Kaka and the boy band Sautisol over who has mentored more artists than the other.
It seems Sautisol saw the challenge as an opportunity to lighten up more candles that oversaw the birth of the likes of Bensoul and Nviiri both of Sol Generation.
Today rapper King Kaka took another bold step and posted a video on his Instagram calling out fellow rappers Nyashinski, Octopizzo and his rival Khaligraph Jones on what seems like a unity call among the rappers.
King Kaka wants each one of them to come up with a younger version of each to make the industry grow bigger than it already has. A candle does not loose light by lighting the other so he says!
King Kaka wants each one of them to come up with a younger version of each to make the industry grow bigger than it already has. A candle does not loose light by lighting the other so he says!
Barely a month ago King Kaka released his controversial hit song ‘Wajinga Nyinyi’ that saw Kenyans unite into condemning and shunning the societal and national atrocities in their midst and with this call to his fellow rappers he has once again proven to be a symbol of unity and peace.
In the past he has been seen trying to unite his brothers; Octopizzo and Khaligraph Jones even if it never bore any fruits he was seen to be the one really trying to bring them together instead of comparing the two.
If at all this call is going to be answered by not only the three rappers but other artists like Redsan as he had mentioned and also the likes of Willy Paul, Juacali and also the gengetone crews like Ethic and Sailors then we are about to witness a music revolution like no other.
Text courtesy of Soundcity.tv
In The Spirit of Movie Remakes, Charles Okpaleke Is Bringing Back Nollywood Classic “Nneka The Pretty Serpent”
It looks like Nollywood producer, Charles Okpaleke is not stopping anytime soon with the remakes of classic Nollywood movies and we are totally here for it.
Since the release of the highly successful “Living in Bondage: Breaking Free,” Charles Okpaleke has acquired the rights to two other Nollywood classics – “Glamour Girls” and “RattleSnake.”
Now we can add the 1992 Nollywood blockbuster “Nneka The Pretty Serpent,” to the list because Charles has also acquired the rights to the movie.
Taking to his Instagram, Charles made the announcement by posting a possible cover for the remake and captioned it:
“We’ve been waiting to announce this! Nneka is Back, and this time she’s going for the Jugular.”
The movie is set to hit Nigerian cinemas in December 2020.
Text courtesy of Bellanaija.com
Crime Does Pay: ‘My Favorite Murder’ Stars Join Joe Rogan As Nation’s Highest-Earning Podcasters.
My Favorite Murder was born, fittingly enough, at a Halloween party in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2015. The gathering was thrown by a mutual friend of the podcast’s future cohosts, Karen Kilgariff, a standup comic and comedy writer, and Georgia Hardstark, a host on the Cooking Channel. The women had met before. But “it wasn’t until this party that we realized we were both really into true crime and didn’t have anyone else to talk to about it,” says Hardstark, 39. “I met someone who … didn’t want me to shut up about murder.”
Millions of others, it turns out, didn’t want them to shut up either. Listeners can’t get enough of the pair’s darkly humorous tales about murderers like Scott Scurlock, the Hollywood Bandit, and Robert Hansen, the Butcher Baker of Anchorage, Alaska. Today My Favorite Murder gets 35 million downloads a month, and last year it was the seventh-most-popular podcast on Apple Podcasts, ahead of repurposed programming like NPR’s Fresh Air and This American Life.
The duo’s little true-crime empire is growing. In the past year, they’ve performed 40 live shows; published a New York Times bestseller (Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, a nod to their show’s catchphrase); signed a development deal with podcast publisher Stitcher worth at least $10 million; and built a 55,000-person fan club—members pay $40 annually for exclusive episodes and access to presale tickets to live shows.
In other words, the duo is killing it, and their earnings show it. They made an estimated $15 million in 2019, placing them at No. 2 on Forbes’ inaugural ranking of the top-earning podcasters. That’s no small feat. There are more than 900,000 podcasts in circulation, according to podcast search engine Listen Notes. Few do the kind of numbers Murder sees. Only comedian Joe Rogan (No. 1, $30 million) made more, although finance guru Dave Ramsey (No. 3, $10 million) is close behind them.
When the Murder team started in 2016, the business was still dominated by National Public Radio but growing fast. Ad spend had risen 73% year-over-year and was projected to hit $515 million by 2019, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. They were off by more than $100 million.
“The industry has only been around for about a decade, but in the last three or four years it’s really started maturing,” said Oren Rosenbaum, head of emerging platforms at United Talent Agency (UTA) who represents the My Favorite Murder duo as well as other podcasters like Guy Raz, the host of How I Built This.
Advertisers likely spent close to $700 million on podcasts in 2019, according to estimates by the IAB and PWC, a nearly seven-fold increase. Last year, streaming giant Spotify spent $250 million to beef up its podcast offerings with the purchase of producers Gimlet and Parcast, while Luminary launched with the goal of becoming the Netflix of audio. Apple, the industry’s creator and de facto gatekeeper, is reportedly planning its own production effort for the first time.
Hollywood has gotten in on the action, too. All three major talent agencies—UTA, William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency—have started representing podcasts over the last several years. In 2019, Netflix and WME’s parent company, Endeavor, released scripted podcasts that have the potential to be turned into film or television. Even Mick Jagger jumped in, signing a podcast production deal last month with Warner Bros.
“A lot of people were dabbling in it, maybe finding one show they liked, and now those people are finding two or three shows that they like,” says Bruce Supovitz, senior vice president and sales director for Nielsen’s national audio services. “The lighter user is becoming a heavier user.”
And the biggest stars are cashing in. When Spotify bought Gimlet last year, cofounder and Startup host Alex Blumberg, along with the company’s other investors, pocketed $194 million. Ira Glass, after 20 years hosting and producing This American Life for WBEZ, took the program private in 2015. While still paying out a chunk of revenue every year to Chicago Public Media, Glass has already produced two films based on This American Life segments since going independent.
Count Kilgariff and Hardstark among the stars. In 2018, they created their own podcast network, Exactly Right. They’ve already greenlit five shows, including This Podcast Will Kill You, which features two epidemiologists who take a sanguine approach to infectious diseases. Last year they signed a deal with podcast publisher Stitcher, worth at least $10 million, that will help them finance show development and build up staff.
“People are realizing that podcasting is special,” says Kilgariff. “I think people are isolated and really lonely.” And in the case of My Favorite Murder, “it’s nice to listen and process terrible (things) together. There’s something really cathartic about that.”
Here’s a look at what the top earners pulled in from their flagship titles: