Albert Mazibuko lived through the start and end of apartheid in South Africa, watched his cousin Joseph Shabalala form Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 1960, and has been part of the group since 1969.
Mazibuko has never been to Lowell. That will change this weekend.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo comes to Boarding House Park on Saturday night at 7:30 as part of the Lowell Summer Music Series. Tickets are $38 in advance, $45 day of the concert, and are available at www.lowellsummermusic.org.
The group draws its name from its hometown of Ladysmith, South Africa, "Black" comes from the black oxen, the strongest of all farm animals, and "Mambazo" is the Zulu word for chopping ax, a symbol of the group's vocal ability to clear the path to success.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo landed in the American conscience in 1985 when Paul Simon asked them to perform on his iconic "Graceland" album. (You can hear them on "Homeless," "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" and "You Can Call Me Al.")
They appeared in Michael Jackson's 1988 movie "Moonwalker" and are featured in the "Sesame Street" songs "Put Down the Duckie" and "The African Alphabet." That year, they also sang "Mbube" in the opening sequence of the Eddie Murphy movie "Coming to America."
In later years, they appeared on a Dolly Parton album in 1996 and then released "Long Walk to Freedom: in 2006 to celebrate 45 years as a group. That album featured collaborations with Sarah McLachlan, Melissa Etheridge, Emmylou Harris, Natalie Merchant and Taj Mahal. That year also saw the group collaborate with Josh Groban on his album and work with Mavis Staples on her album.
More recently, the group collaborated with Nico & Vinz on David Guetta's 2014 album "Listen."
There's a reason people like working with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and fans enjoying seeing them live.
"There's a lot of dancing, some dancing with our hands," Mazibuko says of the live performances. "It's entertaining music, very inspirational and uplifting. People come to our show happy and leave happier. We want people to see the world in a different way, see the world in a positive light. We do our best to make it better."
Times are tough, and people have a hard time getting along. Mazibuko lived that in his native South Africa and is proof that you can survive tough times.
"Our music has taken us through our struggle when we grew up and when we left our country and things were very bad," he said. "The power of music is still there. The inspiration in our music is still there. We still need something that is going to make us stronger. The only way to survive in this world we are living in is to be strong. If we are strong, we can do the right things and control any situation we are facing."
In an audience of everyone from 2-year-olds to 90-year-olds, it's the music that brings people together.
"Our music speaks to the soul," he said. "It knows no color, and it knows no boundaries."
Remember the name: Caroline Jones opens Fenway tonight
You don't know her (yet), but Caroline Jones has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in music.
The country-pop singer opens for Jimmy Buffett tonight at Fenway Park. She'll be the first one on the stage at 7 p.m., followed by Peter Wolf and the Midnight Travelers, with Buffett taking the stage as the headliner, so if you're late to the show, you might miss her. Bad idea.
Not only is she touring with Jimmy Buffett and the Zac Brown Band, she also has a few dates lined up with Kip Moore this summer. She opened for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill last month. Earlier this year, she opened for OneRepublic and The Eagles.
"To have artists like Jimmy, Zac Brown, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and Kip Moore mentor me and present me to their audiences is a real privilege and an honor," Jones told me in an email interview we conducted Monday night.
Jones has performed on "The Today Show," hosts a show on SiriusXM radio about songwriting, and has been named an artist to watch by both Billboard and Rolling Stone magazines.
"I have dedicated my whole life to the craft of music -- singing, songwriting, playing instruments, producing and performing," she wrote. "This is my passion and life's work, and it is my sincere hope that that love comes across in my recordings and performances and inspires people."
She's particularly excited to be opening for Buffett.
"When I found out I would be on the whole 'Son of a Son of a Sailor Tour 2018,' I was overjoyed. There is nothing I love more in this world than touring big stages like this."
Jones released her most recent album, "Bare Feet," in March. It landed in the top 30 on the Billboard country album chart and No. 12 on the iTunes country album chart, and it features the song "Tough Guys," which spent five weeks atop CMT.com's 12-Pack Countdown.
Get there early to see Jones and you'll hear "an uplifting, high-energy, semi-acoustic set. It will be me on banjo and guitar and my musical director, Nir Z, on percussion. We will throw in a cover or two, and I might bring out a special guest at the end of my set!"