South African musician Joseph Shabalala dies

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Joseph Shabalala with members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 1998

Joseph Shabalala, who helped introduce the sound of traditional Zulu music to the world, has died aged 78.

The musician was best known as the founder and director of choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which won five Grammy awards and featured heavily on Paul Simon’s Graceland album.

They also reached number 15 in the UK charts with a cover of Swing Low Sweet Chariot, for the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Shabalala died in hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, the band’s manager said.

“Yes it’s true. Mr Shabalala passed on this morning,” Xolani Majozi said.

“The group is on tour in the US, but they have been informed and are devastated because the group is a family.”

The South African Government paid tribute to the musician in a tweet, saying:

“We would like to extend our condolences on the passing of Joseph Shabalala who was the founder of the group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.”

It added in Xhosa, “Ulale ngoxolo Tata ugqatso lwakho ulufezile.” (Rest in peace, father, your race is complete.)

Born in 1941, Shabalala was the eldest of eight children living on a farm in Tugela, near the town of Ladysmith in South Africa.