The founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala, has died

Joseph Shabalala worked with Paul Simon on 'Graceland'

The founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala, has died. He was 78 years old.

According to reports from the BBC and The Associated Press, Shabalala died on Tuesday morning (February 11) at a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa.

Shabalala took the South African choral group to international acclaim, but had retired from touring in 2014.

Writing on Twitter, the group said: “Our Founder, our Teacher and most importantly, our Father left us today for eternal peace. We celebrate and honor your kind heart and your extraordinary life.

“Through your music and the millions who you came in contact with, you shall live forever.”

Xolani Majozi, the group’s manager, told TimesLIVE: “[The group] have been informed and are devastated because the group is family.”

The group’s “Amabutho’ album became Africa’s first gold-selling album and in 1986, the choir joined Paul Simon on ‘Graceland’ and a subsequent world tour.

Shabalala also co-wrote ‘Homeless’ and ‘Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes’ with Simon.

Simon later produced three of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s albums – including their Grammy Award winning 1987 album, ‘Shaka Zulu’.

Joseph Shabalala; Paul Simon
Joseph Shabalala and Paul Simon on tour. Credit: Getty

The group went onto win a further four Grammys for Best World Music Album and were described by Nelson Mandella as “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors to the world.”

The group also appeared in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and appeared with an array of artists over the years including Dolly Parton, Josh Groban, Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris and more.