Vusi Mahlasela Tickets
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Vusi Sidney Mahlasela Ka Zwane is a Sotho South African singer-songwriter. His music is generally described as African folk, while his work was an inspiration to many in the anti-apartheid movement. His sound is a hybrid of folk, world, blues and soul, one that connects South Africa's Apartheid-scarred past with its promise for a better future.
Mahlasela, an accomplished guitarist, percussionist, composer, arranger, band leader and performer, has bridged generations both at home and abroad. Over the past three years of heavy, world-wide touring and spreading his message, Mahlasela has remained true to his roots.
Mahlaselas themes include the struggle for freedom, and forgiveness and reconciliation with enemies. Vusi Sidney Mahlasela Ka Zwane was born in 1965 in Lady Selborne, South Africa. At an early age, he became enchanted by music, building his first guitar out of tin and fishing line. Raised in a vibrant artist community, Mamelodi Township, he gravitated toward poetry and songwriting as a teen.
He eventually joined youth organizations protesting South Africa's separatist, white government. Poems at night vigils, funerals and anti-Apartheid marches triggered a long streak of police harassment. Vusi Mahlaselas poems and songs were routinely confiscated, forcing him to memorize his work.
Recalling that time, Vusi said that people like him would 'just disappear indefinitely', or, in Mahlasela's case, be held for periods of time. It got him some sort of courage. In 1988, he joined the Congress of South African Writers, developing a new level of confidence as a poet and a writer.
Mahlasela struck up a creative friendship with South African poet Lesego Rampolokeng. Lesego joined Mahlasela and Dave Matthews on 'Sower of Words'. Artists like Miriam Makeba and Phillip Tabane and the work of Victor Jara had central influences on Mahlasela's music and lyrics. When he was in his early 20s, his mother collapsed in church. She died the same day just a year after she'd proudly held his first recording in her hands and wept.
Vusi Mahlasela wrote the new song 'River Jordan' for his mother, and it was with her inspiration and the motivation of leaders like Nelson Mandela that he created his official debut. He came up with the album entitled When You Come Back in 1991. The album was produced by Lloyd Ross, who returned to the controls for Guiding Star.
After the end of Apartheid, Vusi played at Mandela's inauguration in 1994, and is now an ambassador to Mandela's 46664 Foundation. He also spearheaded a campaign to help raise Global awareness of Aids/ HIV and proudly promoted Mandela's message at all of his performances.
Vusi can also be heard performing on Warren Haynes' Live at Bonnaroo release during the song Soulshine, and the Dave Matthews Band song, Everyday, as well as a live version of the song with him. He was also one of the performers at the Live 8 concerts.
Having released a string of albums in South Africa, it wasn't until the debut in 2003 of the documentary film called Amandla!. The film charted South Africans' longtime struggle for racial equality and Americans first glimpsed and heard Mahlasela. A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, Amandla, broke the doors down for Vusi.
Later that year, The Voice was released for the first time in U.S. via the ATO Records label. The label is co-owned by longtime fan and fellow South African Dave Matthews, who calls Mahlasela 'one of the most important influences of his life. The album was a collection of the best songs from Vusis catalog, featuring so chock full of beauty, soul and struggle that it had a profound effect on American listeners in the wake of 9/11. Much of the album wasn't sung in English though. The Voice included the popular track Weeping, recorded with Josh Groban and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The following year, Vusi Mahlasela played a very mellow pre-lunch solo set to an appreciative audience at the 2004 Falls Festival. It was concluded with a superb performance of 'Red Song' in The Big Top, before joining Xavier Rudd on the main Valley Stage to a rapturous reception.
Vusi also joined Mambazo for their October-November UK tour in 2004, and later again in 2007 UK tour. In June 2007, Mahlasela spoke of apartheid and performed Thula Mama at the TED Conference and at the South African leg of Live Earth.
Over a musically and socially consequential career, South African singer-songwriter and poet-activist Vusi Mahlasela has successfully followed his muse. While reminiscing struggling days, he once said that one of the hardest things to learn as a musician is when to not only recognize inspiration, but when to trust and follow it. That trust in his gift is at the root of his latest album, Guiding Star.
He wrote and recorded this album as he toured the globe and its soul-stirring title is very much a product of the new friends he's met and experiences during his tour. Bearing the influences of various music and voices from throughout the world, Guiding Star features guest appearances of many singers.
Mahlasela drew on the talents of numerous South African guests in his album called Guiding Star. Some of them are the legendary 'Black Moses' Ngwenya of the Soul Brothers, the children's choir from the Agnes Chidi School in his home Township, Mamelodi, and the KCC Gospel, among many others.
Like any Vusi Mahlasela album, there are songs that connect him and the people of South Africa with both their past, present, and hopes for a better future. The bulk of the album was recorded on a farm in rural South Africa.
The perfect strong voice of Dave Mathew drives the message of the album across, taking it to a new level. The affecting 'Sower of Words' is a lament for the late Black Consciousness poet and writer Ingoapele Madingoane, while 'Song for Thandi' explains the story of detained freedom fighter Thandi Modise.
Guiding Star won Vusi Mahlasela the 2007 SAMA for Best Male Artist. Noted critic Robert Hilburn wrote in a rave Los Angeles Times review that Vusi Mahlasela's voice is so pure and commanding; one wonders whether one should have gotten an entire album by him.