They are more than the voices chanting in "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" or "Homeless." They are more than Paul Simon's discovery and the backing vocals on his masterpiece, "Graceland." Though these songs and these connections are how many casual music listeners recognize members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Bowdoin students and the Brunswick community have a rare chance to witness their depth, musicality, and stage presence during a sold-out concert at Pickard on Friday at 7 p.m.

"I'm not really sure when I first heard about Ladysmith Black Mambazo," said Toby Crawford '07, co-chair of the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and co-chair of the committee that booked Ladysmith last year. "I've always loved Paul Simon's Graceland album and, at some point, made the connection that Ladysmith Black Mambazo accompanied him."

Ladysmith Black Mambazo's road to Bowdoin started last year, when a CAB committee co-chair recognized the group as one her father had played when she was a child, and she immediately began to look into bringing the group to campus. Committee co-chair Curtis Isacke '07 said, "They seem to have a special niche. Even Bates students have contacted me for tickets, and we had to limit sales to community members so students could get a chance."

Isacke's fellow co-chair, Sandip Patel '07, agreed with Isacke's statement about the group's popularity.

"A pretty wide variety of people are excited about the show, especially people who like a cappella or gospel music. Even if they haven't heard of the group, they want to see what the hype is about."

Much of the hype comes from Ladysmith's appearance on "Graceland," when Paul Simon introduced this South African group to the world. Joseph Shabalala, the founder and musical leader of the group, consistently makes references to Simon in the group's songs as a friend and someone who helped the group become known worldwide.

Since the group burst out of South Africa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo won a Grammy for its 1987 album, "Shaka Zula," and has performed with many other popular artists. Recently, they performed "Homeless" with Sarah McLachlan on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," and released "Long Walk to Freedom" at the end of January. This album includes such guest artists as McLachlan, Melissa Etheridge, Taj Mahal, and Natalie Merchant.

The Bowdoin community should expect a show as remarkable as Ladysmith's impressive guest artists and awards, as Isacke said that "people should be prepared for a visual spectacle also. There's a fair amount of dancing and they wear vibrant costumes."

"They told us not to underestimate the sound system that they want," said Junior Assitant Researcher in Biology Braulio Peguero, who put much of his time and energy into this show, "because they want every audience member to have the same acoustic feeling."

Though students may not recognize the name at first, they will recognize the sound come Friday night.

"There tends to be a generation gap for people who listen to them. Most students are exposed by their parents or by living abroad," Peguero continued. "But when you tell people who they are, they start getting excited and want to find out more."

Simon wrote this particular line to describe Ladysmith Black Mambazo's music in his song about founder Shabalala, "Under African Skies": "These are the roots of rhythm, and the roots of rhythm remain."