Click on the image for the interview with Vusi Mahlasela. “The Voice” of the South African anti-apartheid movement talks about music and social change his inspiration to join the freedom movement, and the need for artists singing for unity today. Visit his website here: http://vusimahlasela.com/ where you can see more videos, check tour dates, and find our more about his most recent album “Say Africa.”
Vusi’s songs of hope connect Apartheid-scarred South Africa with its promise for a better future. But in this conversation with Stephan, Vusi makes clear the need for artists to raise their voices, and utilize their power to bring people together all over the world. They close by imagining difrent:’s vision of creating a new model for the music business that embodies change, embodies a solution, where music is distributed through the networks creating positive impact on a constant basis, creating awareness, raising funds, and building that great movement we’ve all waited for.
Raised in the Mamelodi Township, where he still resides, Vusi became a singer-songwriter and poet-activist at an early age teaching himself how to play guitar and later joining the Congress of South African Writers. After his popular debut on BMG Africa, When You Come Back, Vusi was asked to perform at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 and continues to spread Mandela’s message as an official ambassador to Mandela’s HIV/AIDS initiative, 46664.
After world-wide touring and international acclaim, Americans first caught a glimpse of Vusi in the lauded documentary film Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, and the accompanying soundtrack. After the release of the film, long-time admirer and fellow South African, Dave Matthews, signed Vusi to his own ATO Records label and released The Voice (2003)¸ a collection of the best songs from Vusi’s catalog. In 2007, ATO released his latest album, Guiding Star, his first full-length release in the States. ATO Records will release the highly anticipated follow-up record to Guiding Star on January 18, 2011. The new album, Say Africa, produced by Taj Mahal and recorded at Dave Matthews’ studio in Charlottesville, VA, captures Vusi’s hope for the future of Africa: ‘Let all those who share in Mandela’s greatest wish—to one day see an Africa that is at peace with herself—SAY AFRICA.’
After recording the album in the States this spring, Vusi returned to his home in South Africa and was honored to help ring in the World Cup at FIFA’s Kick Off Concert at Orlando Stadium. The concert was broadcast internationally to an estimated one billion viewers. Following his performance, Vusi proudly introduced fellow South African, Archbishop Desmond Tutu on stage. Vusi’s anthemic song ‘When You Come Back’ was ITV’s official theme song for the World Cup in the UK. Other recent highlights include performing at Mandela Day to honor Mandela’s birthday, touring with Bela Fleck behind the release of his Grammy-winning album ‘Throw Down Your Heart,’ which features a live track from Vusi and Bela, two appearances at the TED conference and performing with Paul Simon.
In the midst of a busy international touring schedule, Vusi remains dedicated to his social activism and partnerships with non-profits, including his own Vusi Mahlasela Music Development Foundation, committed to the promotion of and preservation of African music. Other organizations that Vusi actively supports are OXFAM, The Acumen Fund, The African Leadership Academy and the ONE campaign.
Over a musically and socially consequential career, South African singer-songwriter and poet-activist Vusi Mahlasela has successfully followed his muse and continued to give back to his country. As he puts it, he knows that ‘musicians have to be like watchdogs, just by seeing and speaking out, directly to the youth as well, because we need some kind of Cultural Revolution to remove ignorance.”