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Mbube
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Mbube

Mbube is a form of African vocal music, made famous by the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Traditionally performed acapella, the style is characterised by an almost gospel-like sense of harmony among the members of the exclusively male singing groups. The style itself dates, according to Joseph Shabalala (of Ladysmith fame), to the times when young South African Zulu men left their families to travel to the major cities to find work — often in mines. In order to preserve a sense of community, these young men would form choirs and perform Mbube music. The breakthrough for this style was Paul Simon's album Graceland, which featured such tracks as "Diamonds on the Souls of her Shoes", in which Simon was backed by the haunting voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Ladysmith themselves have since gone on to have many major successes, including songs such as "Homeless", "Mbube" (the traditional Zulu-language version of what is known as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in English), "Hello My Baby" and also recordings of classics such as Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and the Rugby World Cup theme "The World in Union". Mambazo are also born-again Christians and frequently demonstrate the close relationship between Mbube and gospel music with recordings of songs such as "Amazing Grace".