Headman Tshabalala was born in 1945 in Ladysmith, Kwa-Zulu Natal. In 1960, he joined the first incarnation of the band Ladysmith Black Mambazo and sang alongside many of his relatives. The group was first only known in the Ladysmith area, but by 1967, they began to make recordings for Radio Zulu and went on to win several choir competitions. In 1968, their first album was released, reaching gold status.
Towards the mid-eighties, Ladysmith Black Mambazo had become well-known around the world, touring countries like Germany and the United States alongside musicians like Paul Simon. While enjoying enormous success during this period, the group was struck by tragedy as Headman Tshabalala was shot dead on *6 December 1991. He was on his way home from a family gathering in Kwa-Zulu Natal when he was stopped on the side of the road and was involved in an argument with a man later identified as Sean Nicholas. Nicholas, an off-duty security guard, pulled out a gun and fatally shot Tshabalala. This murder, thought to be racially motivated, only resulted in a minor three-year sentence for Nicholas and sparked international outrage.
Headman Tshabalala was buried in Ntabamhlophe, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Since his passing Ladysmith Black Mamabazo has continued its success, winning Grammy Awards in 2005 and in 2009.
*Another source gives the date as 10 December.
• Headman Tshabalala [online] Available at: absoluteastronomy.com [Accessed 30 November 2009]
• Headman Tshabalala, 44, Singer With Ladysmith Black Mambazo. December 13, 1991. New York Times [online] Available at: nytimes.com [Accessed 30 November 2009]
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