Graceland is one of my all-time favorite albums. Among the many African singers and groups that contributed, I only remember LBM because I’ve never heard anything like it. Now on the 20th anniversary of Graceland (gosh I’m getting old!), LBM is touring the world with a show titled “Long Walk to Freedom: Music of South Africa”. The programme says in some concerts Sarah McLachlan sings in Homeless (I doubt how much she can sing in that song) and Melissa Etheridge in Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. Not in this concert, though. The complete first half was a solo act by the special guest Vusi Mahlasela, which turned out to be actually better than the second half by LBM.

Vusi is called “Bob Dylan of South Africa”. Boy his voice is so much better than Dylan’s! He plays the guitar well, and sings a variety of voices. Compared with his songs, LBM is way too simple and monotonic. No wonder there’re many copycat groups. They did sing Homeless, whose last segment in Zulu roughly means (as told by Graceland’s jacket) “We would like to announce to the entire nation that we are the best at singing in this style”, which is used in many of their songs. It’s pretty amazing that the group leader Joseph Shabalala has kept it going for more than 40 years with a rolling roster of mostly his relatives (brothers, cousins, sons) and a few friends, with several members died tragically or being murdered.

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