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Vusi Mahlasela portrait

Vusi Mahlasela

South Africa

Vusi Mahlasela is a South African singer/songwriter whose music is generally described as “African folk.” His work was an inspiration to many in the anti-apartheid movement. His themes include the struggle for freedom, and forgiveness and reconciliation with your enemies.

He tours on his own, and in collaboration with other artists regularly, and played in U.S. as recently as the Spring of 2009. He toured with Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the United Kingdom for the group’s British tour during October and November of 2004. Vusi can also be heard performing on Warren Haynes’ “Live at Bonnaroo” release during the song “Soulshine,” and on the Dave Matthews Band song “Everyday,” from the album of the same name, as well as on a live version of the song which appears on the album “The Best of What’s Around Vol. 1.”

Vusi joined a number of other South African musicians to take part in the 2002 documentary “Amandla!,” in which they recalled the days of Apartheid.

How we met:

Vusi is known around the world as “The Voice,” both for his singing voice, and for his active role in speaking out against the apartheid regime in South Africa. It is because of this voice that we piled into a minibus on a hot African day and made the drive from Johannesburg to the township of Mamelodi. As we walked through the gate into his backyard, Vusi greeted us with open arms. We quickly set up and recorded Vusi’s unmistakable voice singing songs of healing and forgiveness. Listening to his stories of growing up during apartheid and his active role in helping to end it, we realized the power music has to help people persevere through the toughest of situations.

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