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World music talent comes no finer than that from the Shabalala family of Durban, South Africa. With patriarch Joseph Shabalala, founder and leader of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, they are South Africa's finest musical family and have just formed yet another top group: Shabalala Rhythm. Sibongiseni and Thamsanqa Shabalala, form the core of this hot, new maskandi act. Already singing with the Ladysmith Black Mambazo on a full-time basis, the two brothers met with Durban guitarist Maqhinga Radebe and started laying down some maskandi-style tracks.

They originally formed Shabalala Rhythm in 1998. "We started talking about it while we were on tour in America, when we discovered that we had a lot of time on our hands. When we got back home that year, we started rehearsing a few songs that I had written; the first song's were "Ubuhle Bakho" and "Intombi Ingalile. We rehearsed a few weeks and called Maqhinga to come and join us with his guitar. Later that year we recorded three songs as to just test how they sounded and then I wrote more songs. We kept working on them until we had ten songs all together-enough to make a CD and then we took them to the record company in 2000." But is this a traditional maskandi album? Sibongiseni says, “Me and my brother always sang with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. So we decided to do an album with maskandi, mixed with some mbaqanga and isicathamiya to see what we could come up with.” They met the guitarist Maqhinga through Mambazo and their father Joseph recommended trying him out for the guitar on the album. "When we decided to work with him, we knew that he was perfect because he had been playing maskandi guitar for a long time. He had won maskandi competitions in the past and my father knew him from way back," states Sibongiseni. Producer Mthandeni Mvelase, who partnered with Sibongiseni, in the production of the album, joined them. He has worked with artists such as Jabu Khanyile, Mbongeni Ngema and many other renowned artists. "I chose him because I knew his style and knew he could add a more African sound to the album. It was great working with him, he added many great ideas to the album and hedidn’t want to change what we had." The group’s first album is called "Ubuhle Bakho," which directly translated means "Your Beauty." When asked about the inspiration for the name, Sibongiseni laughs, "It is not about a particular woman, rather about a man that loves his woman so much that his jealousy takes over when others look at her.

The song recommends letting people be free, and if they love you and their heart is yours, they will stay with you. It’s about men that think, because they are with a woman, they are the only ones who are allowed to appreciate her beauty." The rest of the album boasts 9 tracks in total and is filled with life messages. Sibongiseni still considers his age too young to be much of a teacher though, “I write about the way I see life and love, I hope the message will reach people out there.” The South African press has warmly received their album with glowing reviews. In fact, "Ubuhle Bakho" had been nominated for the "Best Zulu Album" by the prestigious South African organization SAMA (South African Music Award). Their second album Umaqondana was also nominated for the SAMA in 2004.

And now they have released their third album Vuma. In 2003 along with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Danny K, Shabalala Rhythm was invited to entertain at Nelson Mandela's home where he was hosting an event to honor Oprah Winfrey. Lately Shabalala Rhythm has been performing all over South Africa sharing stages with well known artists such as Hugh Masekela, Jabu Khanyile, SSQ, KB, Kabelo, Jabu Sithole, Deborah Fraser, Phuzekhemisi, Soul Brothers, Mfiliseni Magubane, Joe Nia, Coyote Steve Kekana, African Footprints and many more. In July 2005 they were invited to perform in Germany for the television program “Tigerenten Club.” Shabalala Rhythm 4th Album Isingqazu was released August 2007.

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