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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
South African singing star killed
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ben Shabalala was a member of the group from 1979
Ben Shabalala, former star of the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, has been shot dead.

Shabalala, brother of the group's founder Joseph, was killed on 16 June in a suburb of Durban, according to his US record label Heads Up.

The singer joined the a capella ensemble in 1979, but retired in 1993 to spend more time with his family.

"Ben was not just my brother, but is a part of my history," Joseph Shabalala said in a statement.

"He is a part of Ladysmith Black Mambazo's legacy. While his life has ended in this terrible way, his voice, his memory and his spirit will continue on with Ladysmith Black Mambazo," he said.

Grammy winner

The singing group rose to international fame following their involvement on US artist Paul Simon's 1985 album Graceland - which won a Grammy for best album in 1986.

Blending Zulu and gospel music traditions, Ladysmith Black Mambazo also recorded the soundtrack to the TV series Shaka Zulu, which won the best folk album Grammy in 1987.

The group is currently on a tour promoting their latest album Raise Your Spirit Higher, which celebrates the tenth anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa.

The group said they would continue touring in honour of Ben Shabalala's memory.

Police are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding his death.

Shabalala, who was in his late 40s, is survived by his wife and four children. His funeral will take place on Saturday.

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