Music is My Life “Ladysmith Black Mambazo”

A Documentary on The Life, The Legacy and the Music of one of the Most Socially   Conscientious Groups in the World

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, known for almost 60 years as one of the most iconic world music groups, has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide, bringing their uplifting vocal harmonies and authentic stage presence.  This South African group has become an international symbol of peace, love, and harmony. Their message has resonated with millions of people, including notable fans they collaborated with, such as Dolly Parton (Knocking on Heaven’s Door), Oprah Winfrey, Paul Simon (Graceland Album), and the late Nelson Mandela (performed at his Noble Peace Prize in Oslo).  “An Academy Award would mean so much to the people of South Africa,” said Producer Carolyn Carew, adding, “This will also help to bring attention to the Joseph Shabalala Foundation in South Africa.

South Africans are excited that Music is My Life – Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been announced as South Africa’s official submission for the International Feature Film and Best Documentary Feature categories for the 96th Annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars.   This is a significant achievement for the group and a testament to the influence of their music worldwide.

After 13 Grammy nominations and 5 Grammy wins, they dedicated their last Grammy Award to Nelson Mandela, who designated them “South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors because of their music.”

The documentary, directed by Mpumi “Supa” Mbele and produced by Carolyn Carew and Judi Nwokedi from Free Women Films with co-producers Speak Up Films, Kate Kotcheff and Joel Marcus, focuses on Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s legendary founder, the late Joseph Shabalala. It explores his rise to international fame with the style of music known as isicathamiya. The film takes viewers on a spiritual and emotional journey.

This is a significant achievement for the group and a testament to their impact on world music. Shabalala was deeply committed to passing the torch to his sons and other family members, continuing to tour internationally.  They are currently touring in a time when the world is so divided, the universal language of music becomes even more critical, which is why Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s music transcends boundaries, noting that their music is as socially and culturally relevant today as it was when they first began recording and performing. Their potential recognition at the Academy Awards would honor their incredible talent and remind them of the power of music to unite people from all walks of life.

The official nominations for the 96th Annual Academy Awards will be announced on January 23, 2024. It will mean so much to the people of South Africa and beyond to know that Joseph Shabalala’s message will live on through the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

This is the first time a documentary from South Africa has been selected for nomination in the International Feature Film category.  The documentary will also bring attention to the critical fact that Joseph Shabalala brought this unique sound to the world, starting with his humble beginnings in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and ending with his passing in 2020.

The film has received overwhelming support from many fans beyond South Africa.   Both the documentary and the music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo will serve as an undeniable legacy of the power of this incredible group.

To view the trailer, go to

Photo credit Getty Images and Photos provided by Producer Carolyn Carew