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Vusi Mahlasela

In his home country of South Africa, singer/songwriter Vusi Mahlasela is fondly known as "The Voice." His fellow countrywoman, the writer Nadine Gordimer, once said about him: "Vusi Mahlasela sings as a bird does: in total response to being alive." Apart from his remarkable songwriting talent, Mahlasela is in fact blessed with one of the most remarkable voices in contemporary popular music. Vusi Mahlasela grew up listening to people singing in his grandmother's shebeen (an informal pub in South African townships) and taught himself while playing the guitar. As a teenager, he started writing his own songs with lyrics of social significance. In 1981, he joined the poetry group Ancestors of Africa, who were on the watch list of the Apartheid regime. His joining of the Congress of South African Writers in 1988 marks a new quality in his artistical maturing process. Besides starting a collaboration with South African dub poet Lesego Rampolokeng, he explored South African jazz and traditional music as well as the work of Chilean songwriter Victor Jara, who -- in his own opinion -- was his strongest influence. His first international performance in London (1990) made him more popular overseas than back home. Consequently, his debut album, When You Come Back (1992), a tribute to the political exiles of South Africa, catapulted him to instant fame in Europe and North America. Nowadays, it is considered a South African classic. Wisdom of Forgiveness, the 1994 successor, was an equally strong effort. The album title nicely summarized the political approach taken by the new democratic South African government: not revenge, but forgiveness was the strategy of the new era. Extensive touring was the reason that Mahlasela's next album, Silang Mabele, was only released at the end of 1997. The message of this album was clear: the time of singing praise songs is over, now let's make this new country work. The live set, Vusi Mahlasela & Louis Mhlanga Live at the Bassline (1999) captured a sizzling performance with one of his longterm collaborators and friends, guitarist Louis Mhlanga, stripped down to two guitars. In 2002, Vusi Mahlasela also appeared in Lee Hirsch's acclaimed documentary Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony which examined the role of music in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The compilation The Voice (2003) which Mahlasela himself handpicked for listeners in North America, marked his official record debut in the U.S.. To celebrate the twenty year anniversary of When You Come Back, the album that brought him onto a world stage in 1992, Vusi assembled his band and threw a concert at the Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg in 2012, performing several of his signature songs in front of an enthusiastic and very involved audience, and the whole affair was recorded and released as a live set, Sing to the People, early in 2013. ~ Frank Eisenhuth, Rovi
full bio

Comments

dazernator80 0
Wow this artist's voice and biography are so amazing!
No matter what, Vusi has one of the best voices today......
I agree, but I'd like to know, what album is his best? I have Say Africa.
Love his lyrical approach combined with his guitar work -- wonderful! One of a half dozen artists to whom I feel deep gratitude for their contribution to my every day life. Thank you, Vusi!
Nice, tho' I think I still prefer Steve Kekana.
Vusi is sure an inspirationa l singer, illuminating the beauty of African artistry. When I first heard Vusi sing I immediately knew this is the Man worth listening to.
Thank you Vusi! Thank you!!
Love this music past midnight!
The corpus of Vusi Mahlasela's work warrants a much larger discography than the one recording registered on Pandora at this time. If you are unfamiliar with this artist, look closer!

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