by Adam McKinney for OLY  ARTS

There aren’t many popular musical institutions more respected or longer lasting than Ladysmith Black Mambazo. They’d already been around for over 20 years before they found an international audience through their contributions to Paul Simon’s genre-mixing masterpiece Graceland, and they’ve continued to amass gold and platinum albums since. Their ongoing success in the United States remains something of a novelty in a market where releases from European and Latin countries are still far more likely to find traction with American audiences.

The South African choral group is dedicated to upholding artistic traditions as well as educating audiences that may not be so familiar with styles like isicathamiya and mbube. They are also not afraid to expand their sound in unexpected ways. With dozens of releases over the course of their career, Ladysmith Black Mambazo continue to find new ways of drawing listeners in with a graceful and light-hearted tone, which they’ll be bringing to the Washington Center in January.

“In this show, we’re expecting them to sing many songs from their newest album, Walking In The Footsteps of Our Fathers, which was GRAMMY nominated for Best World Music Album of 2016,” said Washington Center executive director Jill Barnes. “We are excited to be hosting them again and to continue to present a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities to our community.”

Recently, Songs for Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around the World delivers on the promise of its title with 10 beautiful songs designed to paint a hopeful picture of the world for children. The album also charmingly features an intro and an outro from the group, thanking the listener for their time. Ladysmith Black Mambazo are inspired by inclusivity and positivity, always leaning toward a bright future where everyone loves and accepts their neighbor.

There’s an abundance of warmth to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with the singers’ honeyed voices being all that’s for sale (isicathamiya being akin to a capella). Switching between Zulu and English, Ladysmith Black Mambazo tell universal stories of understanding in gorgeous harmony, which is just what the world needs right now.

WHAT Ladysmith Black Mambazo

WHERE The Washington Center for the Performing Arts,
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia

WHEN 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17

HOW MUCH $32-$54

LEARN MORE 360-753-8586 | The Washington Center for the Performing Arts