Ladysmith Black Mambazo mourn their star

Jockey Shabalala, a member of South Africa's most famous ensemble, has died, the group's record company said on Tuesday. He was 62.

Shabalala, whose brother Joseph founded and still leads the Ladysmith Black Mambazo, died on Saturday of natural causes surrounded by family in South Africa, said Mike Wilpizeski, a spokesperson for the US-based Heads Up International record label. He had suffered from various ailments.

Jockey Shabalala joined Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the 1960s and featured on Paul Simon's Graceland album, which captivated world audiences and won the Grammy Award for album of the year in 1986.

He continued to tour and record with the group until early last year, when they won a second Grammy for their recording Raise Your Spirit Higher. He then retired from international travel to spend more time with his family, but continued to perform in South Africa.

The group, which fuses Zulu and gospel music traditions, was touring the United States to promote their latest release, Long Walk To Freedom, when news of Shabalala's death reached them. Joseph Shabalala said they would not interrupt the tour.

"We must continue to spread our culture and our message of peace, love and harmony," he said in the statement from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"Jockey helped me and the rest of the group on this mission for almost 40 years. As we were performing tonight's encore song, Amazing Grace, I could hear his voice, once again, as part of our harmony. I'll always hear his voice, even as he is now with God."

He is survived by his wife and four children. A funeral service is planned for Saturday in his hometown of Ladysmith. - Sapa-AP


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