Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand

Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand Ladysmith Black mambazo

Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand

Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand – The style of Isicathamiya music gained International recognition in 1986 with the release of Paul Simons album “Graceland” featuring two tracks “Homeless” and “Diamonds on the Souls of her Shoes” backed by the voices of local Zulu group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The group Ladysmith Black Mambazo has gone to receive 5 Grammy Awards, their last in 2018, and featured at the 1966 Rugby World Cup with the theme “The World in Union.”

Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand ragtime troupes crop

Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand – Origins

Among musical buffs this style of cappella genre with tight choreographed dance moves was heavily influenced by American ragtime groups that toured South Africa in second half of the 1800”s. Many Zulu men left their rural homes for work in the big cities in the 1920 and 30’s and it was only then that isicathamiya gained popular momentum.

The Zulu word “isicathamiya” cannot be literally translated but is derived from “cathama” meaning tread carefully or walking softly. Isicathamiya contrasts with an earlier Zulu name for a type of cappella singing, “mbube”, meaning “lion”.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo performing in “Africa’s Time” by Jeremy Olivier

Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand – Some Facts

  • This style of music was born in the hostels and heavily influenced by Zulu traditions, not western ones, of men longing for their natural environment and culture.
  • Groups were only men dressed in suits with white shirts and gloves, black shoes and red socks. The leader who was the composer and arranger of the songs dressed in contrasting colour.
  • The groups performing position was a single lined arc with the leader in front.
  • The leading voice was a tenor, followed by one falsetto soprano, one alto and the rest sang bass.
  • As these men became more urbanized isicathamiya waned until the emergence of LadySmith Black Mambazo who introduced songs on current social and political issues.
Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand Tourism

Contemporary Cultural Zulu Music Isicathamiya Zululand

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