It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of South African music icon, former Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) board member, bab’ uJoseph Shabalala, says Nicholas Maweni, Chairperson of SAMRO.

“Think of the song ‘Homeless’. Whatever memories come into play are the embodiment of bab’ uJoseph’s labour.  Every Grammy Award won by Ladysmith Black Mambazo has been a celebration for us as a rainbow nation, and we’ll always be indebted to him for promoting South Africa’s rich and diverse music abroad.”

Shabalala, who passed on the 11 of February at a hospital in Pretoria was the founder of the five-time Grammy-award winning choral group from KwaZulu Natal.

The 78-year-old, a long-standing member of SAMRO served on SAMRO’s Board in the mid 90’s until 2008. He also received the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) Award for long-time achievement.

SAMRO has been a partner and sponsor of the ACT Awards for a number of years and have played a pivotal role in the recognition of long-time achievers as the main sponsor.

“To us ubab’ uShabalala was larger than life. His passion for ethnic music and music as a whole is unparalleled. His ability to transcend cultural barriers through the use of sound has yet to be matched. And his love for the industry and his fellow musicians is why he could serve for over a decade as a board member of SAMRO.”

“We will miss him dearly. The beauty of a melody, however, is once struck, it lives with you for ever. May his song never die,” says Maweni.

Shabalala will be laid to rest in Ladysmith on February 22. Details of the funeral are unclear at this point, however it will be open to the public.

He leaves behind a wife, seven sons, two daughters and 36 grandchildren.ur deepest condolences go out to the Shabalala family. While we are grateful that you shared Dr Joseph Shabalala first with us and then with the world, we are deeply saddened by your loss. May his soul rest in peace.”