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Ladysmith Black Mambazo Timeline 1986 - 1993

In 1985, Paul Simon traveled to South Africa in the hope of collaborating with black musicians for his Graceland album. Simon asked Ladysmith Black Mambazo to work with him, and they traveled to London to record. The first recording was "Homeless" - the music and chorus were composed by Simon, with Shabalala composing the Zulu introduction and main (non-English) body of the song. The group's 1986 album Ezulwini Siyakhona refers to the encounter with Paul Simon in the liner notes. Graceland was released in May of that year, and although both Joseph Shabalala and Paul Simon were accused of breaking the cultural boycott of South Africa, the album became a huge success and sold 16 million copies and boosted further Ladysmith Black Mambazo's international image. This also paved the way for other African acts like Stimela and Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens to gain popularity amongst Western audiences.

After Graceland, Simon acted as producer on three records for the group aimed at the American market, Shaka Zulu (1987), Journey of Dreams (1988) and Two Worlds, One Heart (1990). On the latter album, the group recorded with The Winans, Julia Fordham and George Clinton, among others.

In 1988, Ladysmith Black Mambazo appeared in Michael Jackson's movie Moonwalker, where they performed "The Moon Is Walking" (an abridged version of the Mambazo song "Lindelani", which appears on Journey of Dreams) over the end credits. Ladysmith Black Mambazo was also featured in the Sesame Street song, "Put Down The Duckie".

On 10 December 1991, Shabalala's brother and one of the bass members in the group, Headman Shabalala, was shot and killed by Sean Nicholas, a white off-duty security guard. His death was considered a racial killing by Paul Simon, who led the court proceedings against Nicholas. Shabalala stopped singing. Eventually, helped by his Christian beliefs, he returned to singing. Following the retirement of three more members in 1993, Shabalala recruited four of his sons into the group.