Archives Collection
"HOME OF THE HEROES"                                             90-035

Physical description:

10 audio tapes (TCA-0133A/F. TTA-0133A/D).

152 black and white contact prints and negatives.

12 5x7 black and white prints.

80 2" color slides.

8 items (in part copies)


29-30 September 1990.


On-site (TCA-0133A/F) and master (TCA-0133A/D) audio tapes were produced by Center audio archivist Bruce Nemerov. The photographs and slides were taken by Robert Cogswell, director of the Folk Arts Program of the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Agency history:

On 29 September 1990 celebrated iscathamiya singers Ladysmith Black Mambazo, were featured in a program of a capella music along with traditional Afro-American gospel groups including the Four Eagles, the Gospel Harmonettes, the Birmingham Sunlights and the Fairfield Four. The concert, held at the Bessemer (AL) Civic Center, explored the links and parallels between black a capella harmony singing traditions in South Africa and the American South and marked the first time the Zulu group had been presented in the context of a traditional American gospel music event.

Black Mambazo's activities began that morning with a reception at Sardis Baptist church in Birmingham AL followed by workshop in traditional Zulu dance and a training session in close harmony singing for the Birmingham Sunlights.

These events, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Birmingham Arts Commission, realized a long-held dream of project director Doug Seroff of Nashville TN who has spent more than a decade researching and promoting Afro-American gospel quartet singing and recently began a parallel study of musical traditions in South Africa.

--based on an article in Alabama Folklife News, fall 1990.

Scope and Content:

These records include field audio cassette tapes (TCA-0133A/F) and studio reel-to-reel tapes (TTA-0133A/D) of the workshop and concert; black and white contact prints and negatives, 5x7 black and white prints and color slides of the workshop and concert; a concert program which includes an extensive essay by Doug Seroff on the parallel black a capella singing traditions; clippings (copies) about the events from Alabama newspapers and journals; notes for participants on the day's schedule by Doug Seroff; and field recording notes by Bruce Nemerov. (Copies of his audio log sheets follow this description.)


Audio visual materials are filed first by format, then by tape number in the audio visual archives. Manuscripts are filed by accession number with other manuscript groups. Photographs and slides are filed in the subject photograph file under black music.

Related material:

On the day following these events Black Mambazo travelled to Murfreesboro TN for a seminar and concert which included some of the Afro-American gospel groups which appeared in the Birmingham concert. Records, including audio tapes, of these events are described under the program title "Singing in Two Worlds".

For additional information on groups participating in these two programs see the names on individual groups in the biographical vertical file.

See also audio recordings and other materials documenting black harmony singing lent for copying by Doug Seroff which are described under his name.