Wingate University celebrates Black History Month with Ladysmith Black Mambazo performance

Ladysmith Black Mambazo by Luis Leal
Contact: Kim Willliams Laura Kratt
Communication Writer Director of Cultural Events
704-233-8320 704-233-8302

Wingate, N.C. – For more than forty years, the voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo have married the intricate rhythms and harmonies of their native South African musical traditions to the sounds and sentiments of Christian gospel music. The result is a musical and spiritual alchemy that has touched a worldwide audience. In celebration of Black History Month, Wingate University is presents Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Batte Center’s McGee Theatre on Friday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

A young farm boy turned factory worker, Joseph Shabalala (still currently leading the group) assembled Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the early 1960s, in Durban, South Africa. The group borrows from a traditional music called isicathamiya (is-cot-a-ME-Ya), which developed in the mines of South Africa, where workers were taken by rail to work far away from their homes and their families. Poorly housed and paid worse, the mine workers would entertain themselves after a six-day week by singing songs into the wee hours on Sunday morning. When the miners returned to the homelands, this musical tradition returned with them.

In the mid-1980s, Paul Simon visited South Africa and incorporated Black Mambazo’s rich tenor/alto/bass harmonies into his Grammy Award winning Graceland album. A year later, Simon produced Black Mambazo’s first U.S. release Shaka Zulu, which won the Grammy Award in 1988, for Best Traditional Folk Album. Since then, the group has received 16 Grammy Award nominations and three Grammy Award wins and has recorded with artists including Stevie Wonder, Josh Groban, Dolly Parton, Ben Harper and many others.

Tickets are $25 and on sale via the Batte Center box office,, and the CarolinaTix phone room and website. For a complete schedule of events, ticket prices, as well as membership information call 704-233-8300.

Opened in 1999, the George A. Batte, Jr. Fine Arts Center presents events in the McGee Theatre, Plyler-Griffin Recital Hall and Austin Auditorium. Located just a short, 5 minute drive from Monroe, The Batte is just two blocks off of Highway 74 and 30 miles east of Charlotte. Free parking is plentiful and all three performance spaces offer full wheelchair accessibility.

Audience members are invited to come early to enjoy two free pre-concert events at the Batte Center:
Opening reception featuring the Patrick and Judy Diamond collection

Wingate’s art department presents the private art collection of Patrick and Judy Diamond in celebration of Black History Month. Artists included in this exhibit are Benny Andrews, Romare Bearden and Elizabeth Catlett. The reception in Helms Gallery begins at 6 p.m.

Wingate choral department’s South African sampler
Student singers will perform traditional South African songs learned on their recent cultural exchange with the Wits Choir from Witswaterland University in Johannesburg, South Africa. Event starts at 7 p.m. in the Rotunda lobby of the Batte Center.

About Wingate University
Wingate University, ranked as the 8th "best value" in the South by U.S. News & World Report, serves more than 2,500 students on three campuses in Wingate, Matthews and Hendersonville, N.C. Founded in 1896, the University offers 34 undergraduate majors, 37 minors and career concentrations, numerous pre-professional programs, graduate degrees in business, accounting, education, physician assistant studies and sport administration, and doctorates in pharmacy and education. With a 14 to 1 student/teacher ratio, Wingate students gain the tools and support needed to excel in academics and apply that learning toward an extraordinary career and life.

In addition to a robust intramural athletics program, Wingate student athletes compete in 19 NCAA Division II sports. The University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past five years. For more information, go to