Grammy Award winner Ladysmith Black Mambazo

headlines Food Bank’s “Food for the Soul” July concerts in Reno

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Photo By Robert Hoffman

Named best traditional world music performers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo will appear in Reno on July 13 as part of the seventh annual “Food for the Soul” world music series in Reno’s Wingfield Park on the Truckee River. The traditional music of South Africa performed by this native group (Grammy Award recipients for the best traditional world music CD of the year at the 47th annual Grammy Awards in 2005), reflects the struggle for freedom by native South Africans.

The Food Bank of Northern Nevada will present the Food for the Soul World Music Series at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday evening as part of the 10th anniversary of the Artown Festival, July 1 - 31, 2005, hosted by the City of Reno. The month-long summer arts festival features over 200 events produced by more than 60 cultural organizations and businesses in more than 50 locations citywide.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was founded in the early 1960s by Joseph Shabalala and took the international music stage by accompanying singer/songwriter Paul Simon on the “Graceland” album 15 years ago. The group performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in 1993 at the request of Nelson Mandela and again in 1994 at Mandela’s inauguration as President of South Africa. In 2002, Shabalala’s wife of 30 years was murdered by an unknown gunman outside their church. His response to the tragedy led to the recording that won the 2005 Grammy, “Raise Your Spirit Higher - Wenyukela,” a message of hope and unity to a troubled world.

The 2005 Food for the Soul lineup will also include the Reno Jazz Orchestra and Wayne Wallace plus several Bay Area jazz guest artists on July 27. Wallace, a Bay Area composer, arranger, teacher and trombone player, has performed with many great stars, including Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, James Taylor, the Smothers Brothers, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight. He will play many of his own original pieces as well as Latin-flavored classics. The Reno Jazz Orchestra, with many talented and accomplished area musicians, enjoys a strong local following.

Firebird Balalaika Quartet will perform on July 20. The dynamic group of musicians performs in costume on traditional Russian instruments, including the balalaika, the bayan, a member of the accordion family, and the domra, a string instrument. Listeners will enjoy lyrical melodies, energetic rhythms, fiery Gypsy dances and beautiful harmonics of Russia from the Caucasus to the Carpathians.

The opening concert on July 6 will feature the Gospel Hummingbirds, a longtime gospel quartet from Oakland, Calif., who blend contemporary with traditional gospel quartet music with urban rhythm and blues. They brand their music as R&G: “Rhythm and Gospel,” soulful yet upbeat, inspirational yet rocking sounds of the black church. The quartet has performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival, the Monterey Blues festival, the Ravenna (Italy) Blues Festival, the Oakland Coliseum tribute to Nelson Mandela, and the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Admission to each Food for the Soul concert is a suggested donation of $5 per person or five cans or more of non-perishable food. Theme refreshments by Washoe. Steakhouse and Skyline Café catering services and ice cream from Model Dairy will be available at reasonable prices at each concert.

Although the Food Bank is not a traditional arts organization, it sponsors the Food for the Soul music program to enhance its presence in the community and heighten awareness of hunger, both around the world and in northern Nevada. While most food drives are scheduled in the winter and holiday months, hunger knows no seasons, nor cultural or geographic boundaries.

The Food Bank, a non-profit organization incorporated in 1983, distributes 3 million pounds of food annually to about 85 agencies in 13 northern Nevada counties and eight counties in the California Sierra. Agencies include shelters, low-income day care centers, rehabilitation programs, senior nutrition centers and emergency food assistance pantries. Its Kids Café program feeds about 1,200 Washoe County children during the school year and with several community partners, about 2,500 children in the summer. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program provides a monthly box of commodity food to more than 2,500 low-income senior citizens, mothers and children. The Back-Pack Kids program packs kid-friendly, nutritious food for a weekend for 150 needy children at three schools.

For more information about the Food Bank and the Food for the Soul concerts, call 775-331-3663 or visit