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Sunday, December 27, 2009


Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Busi Mhlongo record together for the first time.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Busi Mhlongo recorded together for the first time at the KZN Music House

On October 4, 2009, internationally-renowned sculptor Andries Botha was in the audience when multi-award winning singer Busi Mhlongo performed at the legendary Rainbow Restaurant in Pinetown. He was so moved by the performance and Mhlongo’s spirituality that the following week, he contacted Neil and Nicola Comfort of the Rainbow and presented a proposal to them.

The proposal related to the Human Elephant Foundation (, an environmental awareness organization which Botha had initiated. This visionary and collaborative organization initiates, coordinates and facilitates discussion and innovative problem-solving to create a better, respectful and sustainable world.

Besides the herd of lifelike elephants created to spread awareness across the globe, Botha and his collaborators in the Foundation envisaged another form of communication - namely music - as being key to spreading the word. Another well-known and much loved Durban musician, Syd Kitchen, had already contributed a song entitled Human Elephant Song to the Foundation. Botha hoped that Mhlongo would also be able to contribute a song and asked the Comforts to help facilitate this.

Mhlongo immediately jumped at the opportunity and expressed her long-held desire to team up again with London-based producer Will Mowat with whom she last worked on her multi award-winning 1998 release Urbanzulu. Besides his sterling work on what is today recognized as one of the greatest South African albums ever produced, Mowat is also noted for his work with Vicky Sampson and her album Zai which launched the stadium anthem African Dream with Mango Groove and as producer of Angelique Kidjo’s global hit Agolo.

Will Mowat did not hesitate in confirming his willingness to assist with the recording. Numerous phone calls and brain storming sessions later, he proposed a meeting with Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM). This three-time Grammy Award-winning act is without a doubt the most globally-recognized music brand from South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal and Durban – the birthplace of the Human Elephant Foundation. Their participation was confirmed with an unequivocal yes.

Just two months after the seed was first sown in Botha’s head at the Rainbow, the two iconic Durban based acts headed into Studio 1 of the recently-launched KZN Music House on December 7 to create magic. The Music House is an initiative of the KZN Department of Economic Development which has provided the province with a state-of-the-art recording facility that is set to change the face of the music industry in KZN. The facility is managed by Committed Artists for the benefit of all KZN-based musicians.

Auspiciously, this was the first-ever recording in the facility and Chief Engineer Richard Mitchell moved heaven and earth to accommodate it on this date, as the following day LBM headed for Johannesburg to record their 53rd album. The management of the facility came donated the studio time in celebration of the fact that the first recording will feature the names Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Busi Mhlongo.

The hope is that the songs that result from the chemistry between the artists will feature on future albums from LBM and Mhlongo and that this will be last time that acts such as LBM will have to travel to Johannesburg to record. The goal is that the song will carry the message of the Human Elephant Foundation to a global audience. In another first, this will also be the first collaboration between Mhlongo and LBM.

Top Durban-based director and cinematographer Michael Cross, of Rogue Productions was in the studio to capture the making of the song on film.

For more information contact Neil Comfort on 083 463 8044 or email: