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Vusi Mahlasela

Vusi Mahlasela = The Voice, was born in 1965 near Pretoria in South Africa. He was brought up by his maternal grandmother in Mamelodi township, where he still resides. Vusi says he's sure he learned to sing before he could talk. He also taught himself guitar but with a home-made guitar made of empty cooking-oil cans and fishing line. By the age of seventeen he was a well-known performer and also wrote his own music and lyrics. Many of his songs would fall into the township jazz category and others are very beautiful ballads.
From the outset, Vusi's songs addressed themes of political and social significance, and so he found himself in demand at political rallies and cultural events. His message of peace also drew him into close contact with poetry groups, especially the Ancestors of Africa, a rousing group of poets, musicians and actors, formed in 1981. After joining the Congress of South African Writers in 1988, Vusi developed a new level of confidence as a poet and a writer. He struck up a creative friendship with South African poet Lesego Rampolokeng. He was also exposed to the work of Victor Jara, whom Vusi acknowledges as a central influence on his own music and lyrics.
Vusi's first record, When You Come Back, now a South African classic, was recorded and released in 1991. In 1994, Vusi was asked to perform the most important gig of his life: at the inauguration of South Africa's new president, Nelson Mandela. That same year, with South Africa undergoing massive transition, Vusi released his second album, on which there are contributions by the Soweto String Quartet (he also guests on their 1996 album Renaissance). With Wisdom of Forgiveness Vusi received a finalist nomination for Best Male Vocalist at
the FNB SAMA (South African Music Award). He worked closely with guitarist Louis Mhlanga on several songs. Vusi has since released four more albums: Silang Mabele (1997), Miyela Afrika (2000), Jungle of Questions (2002) - which Vusi
produced and recorded with his Proud People's Band backing outfit - and Guiding Star (2007). Guiding Star features many guest artists including Ladysmith Black Mambazo with whom Vusi toured in 2007.
Vusi contributes to Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, the celebrated film