The Mahotella Queens—Mildred Mangxola, Nobesuthu Mbadu, and Hilda Tloubatla—combined with Mahlathini (the Lion of Soweto) and West Nkosi to create mbanqanga, the happening sound of the

The Mahotella Queens—Mildred Mangxola, Nobesuthu Mbadu, and Hilda Tloubatla—combined with Mahlathini (the Lion of Soweto) and West Nkosi to create mbanqanga, the happening sound of the apartheid-afflicted South Africa of the '60s. This groove-rich vibe echoed throughout the townships well into the '70s, when the Queens retired to raise their babies. In 1986, they reunited with Mahlathini and returned to the world-music circuit. Two years ago, the Lion of Soweto passed away; still, the Queens rock on. Their beautiful three-part harmonies are as robust as ever. For immediate proof, go directly to the a cappella numbers, "Town Hall" and "Love Emotion." The township toyi-toyi rhythm of "Kumnyama Endlini," "Waze Wangidelela," and the title track is wildly infectious and jubilant, and it's certainly one of the most endearing vibes in world music today. Mbanqanga is the sound of the anti-apartheid movement; the Queens, who are touring throughout the U.S. in April and May, are keeping the legacy alive. —PVV

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