Secret History of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “The Moon Is Walking” From ‘Moonwalker’

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Something that stood out to me, that I always pondered about, was in the last scene of his film Moonwalker, during the credits. There was an entrancing song chanting, “Come and see. The moon is dancing.” It left me in a spell. What an intoxicating message and melody to end the film with. To imagine that even the moon was dancing with Michael was inspiring.

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As a child I didn’t understand all of the lyrics to “The Moon Is Walking,” and as an adult I found myself wanting to know more about the group who sang the song. It is truly a shame that they are not mentioned in the credits. This is something I recognize happens more often than not. Someone comes in as an addition to a project and doesn’t get credited appropriately. Thanks to Okayplayer, I get to change that narrative and give very due credit and respect to the South African iconic group known as Ladysmith Black Mambazo.


Secret History of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Moon Is Walking” From ‘Moonwalker’Secret History of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Moon Is Walking” From ‘Moonwalker’

Meeting Michael Jackson

Turns out that the members of Ladysmith and Michael interacted for less than 24 hours. Michael Jackson’s management reached out to their management when they were in Los Angeles and invited them to the studio. From there they met and performed and agreed to participate in the project Moonwalker.

Albert recalled the session and what led up to them building out the song:

“Because we were around Los Angeles our tour manager told us that Michael Jackson’s manager called and Michael Jackson wants to meet Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I said ‘Really? Is this for real?’. He said yes and I remember that morning we were so excited waking up cooked breakfast, and then we went there to the studio to go record. When we got there he was already there. So he was sitting down with his family.”

“Then as soon as he saw us he stood up, he met us half way and he was wearing his gloves, so he took them off and then he put the gloves in his pocket and shook hands with us and gave Joseph, the leader of the group a hug. Michael Jackson is a person that doesn’t register in our hearts that he is a real person. He said ‘I am so glad that you made time to come here. I’m a big fan. I brought some of my family here. My mother and my sister and one of my brothers. I would like to do something with you’.”

Secret History of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Moon Is Walking” From ‘Moonwalker’‘Hello My Baby.’ And so we sang the whole song and did the dancing and everything. After that, he was smiling, looking down, and said, ‘So I hope you will be available tonight for rehearsal because I am doing a shoot for my project called Moonwalker’.”

Secret History of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Moon Is Walking” From ‘Moonwalker’

So he said, when we talked about it, he said, ‘You know sometimes you can sit and you don’t know when your luck is gonna come, but just wait because everything is coming from above. So now is the time that our blessings are coming. So this is the time now’.

The song was about that. And then also when [Michael] talked about the moon he said the moon is above so everything is coming [from] above. Everything is coming to us. The song was written around the situation was happening at that time. The blessing I think is the only way that I can fit to describe what was happening.”

Secret History of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Moon Is Walking” From ‘Moonwalker’Secret History of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Moon Is Walking” From ‘Moonwalker’Secret History of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “Moon Is Walking” From ‘Moonwalker’

Catherine Harris-White (aka SassyBlack) is a Seattle-based freelance writer and artist whose album, New Black Swing, is available for consumption at Bandcamp. She has written for Crack Magazine, Tom Tom Magazine & Soundfly’s Flypaper. You can follow the latest and greatest from her on Twitter @SassyBlack_.

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