Black History Month Series


IOWA CITY, IA – The Englert Theatre honors Black History Month with a series of performances by award-winning musicians. Three-time Grammy Award-winning blues artist, Keb’ Mo’, kicked off the series last night (Feb 9). The Englert will host two more performances next week: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the beloved South African a capella group, will perform on February 18, and roots/blues icons Eric Bibb and Ruthie Foster, will perform together on February 19.

The Englert Theatre frequently incorporates celebrations of culture and heritage into its programming via concerts, readings, gallery installations, panel discussions or other events. For example, in 2012, author Junot Diaz spoke at the Englert during Hispanic American Heritage Month.

“In addition to the wide range of scheduled programming throughout the year, we also strive to honor elements of our cultural heritage at specific points during the year,” said Englert Executive Director Andre Perry. “We expect audiences who are familiar with these artists to enjoy the performances, but we really hope to reach new listeners, both young and old, who will walk into these shows and have moving experiences.”

Katie Roche, the Englert’s Development Director, had fond memories of her previous experience seeing Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

“I originally saw Ladysmith Black Mambazo as a student at the University of Iowa. In fact, it was the first show that I ever saw at Hancher,” Roche said. “Like many people, I knew them from Paul Simon’s excellent Graceland album, but seeing them live and hearing their stories between songs made for a very rich cultural experience. The wall of sound created by the ensemble is so beautifully blended, so obviously deeply felt that it’s very moving. In fact, I couldn’t stay in my seat and had to dance.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the group’s groundbreaking Graceland collaboration with Paul Simon. The choir will perform a tribute to Nelson Mandela at the February 18 concert. Ruthie Foster and Eric Bibb are multi-award winning roots/blues artists and frequent collaborators. They will play both solo and together at the February 19 show.

The Englert Theatre is a community arts center and performance space that enhances the vitality of Iowa City’s historic downtown as its last historic theater. The Englert Theatre provides diverse programming, educational opportunities and exposure to the performing and visual arts. The organization strives to highlight the talents of local performers, artists and ensembles as well as hosting regional, national and international touring performances.


If you would like more information about the Englert’s Black History Month performances or to schedule an interview with Englert staff, please call Melea Dau at (319) 688-2653 x104 or email Melea at

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Event Information

Eric Bibb and Ruthie Foster Event Information

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Website:

Eric Bibb Website

Ruthie Foster Website

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was formed in 1960 by Joseph Shabalala, who sought to combine the intricate rhythms and harmonies of his native South African musical traditions with sentimental Christian gospel music. The multiple Grammy Award-winning a cappella group’s thick, multi-part vocals and rhythmically complex beats have transcended across time and space. Ladysmith Black Mambazo consists of over ten vocalists, and recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the group’s groundbreaking collaboration with Paul Simon on his seminal album, Graceland. In addition to collaborating with Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has worked alongside Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Josh Groban and many others.


Eric Bibb and Ruthie Foster

Longtime friends and collaborators Ruthie Foster and Eric Bibb will join forces for a select few performances to celebrate joyful roots music. Performing on their own and together, the tour title, “Thanks for the Joy,” is drawn from a song written by Eric and performed by Ruthie. Grammy nominee Ruthie Foster is one of the roots music world’s brightest stars. Ruthie was among the most-honored artist at the 2012 Blues Music Awards with three nominations and two wins. Eric Bibb is also a Grammy nominee.


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