There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
FEBRUARY 27 & 28
Zimbabwe’s Black Umfolosi hasn’t recorded with Paul Simon, but, like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, this octet enraptures audiences with quintessentially southern African a cappella vocals that acrobatically mix doo-wop, gospel choir, and barbershop quartet stylings. Named after 19th-century Zulu rebels who moved north of the South African border, this ensemble lends its well-trained bass and baritone chops to imbule singing, an approach that originated with Zulu miners who were isolated in all-male work hostels. While most often singing in their native Ndebele (and occasionally in English) on their most recent effort, Festival-Umdlado, Umfolosi impresses with its intricate, choral phrasing, even if its melodies and platitude-filled lyrics about love, family, and the environment aren’t quite as distinctive as those of Ladysmith. Masters of call and response, Sotsha Moyo’s lead tenor floats above or counterpoints the ensemble’s sublime bass harmonies. Live, the group also demonstrates its love of dance, engaging in R&B-style group choreography with an added set of boisterously stomped Zulu hunting and fighting chants they perform in native garb with tribal shields and spears. At 8 p.m. Friday & 2 p.m. Saturday at the Publick Playhouse, 5445 Landover Rd., Cheverly. $15. (301) 277-1710. (Steve Kiviat)