100 World Class South Africans: Vusi Mahlasela

2013-09-12 12:00

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The Voice of a nation

Earlier this year, Vusi Mahlasela toured America with string band The Carolina Chocolate Drops.

They performed in venues from California to Illinois.

While the band is relatively unknown in SA, Mahlasela has a solid base of fans in the US.

The singer-guitarist from Pretoria is now a global icon – a long way from the constant police harassment for his freedom songs during the 80s.

He’s recorded with Josh Groban, shared stages with Sting and Paul Simon, and had a song (When You Come Back) – his debut recording – in the UK charts.

He performed it at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994; in 2010 ITV used it as the theme song for its coverage of the Fifa Soccer World Cup.

Often hailed as ‘The Voice’ because of his poignant and inspirational lyrics, Mahlasela has been recognised as a thinker and leader too.

He’s spoken and performed at TED conferences (2007 and 2008) and the Skoll World Forum in 2010.

He signed with New Yorkbased ATO Records in 2003.

Collaborations on his last album, Say Africa, confirm that Mahlasela is an artist of international standing: two Grammy winners, Taj Mahal and Angelique Kidjo, join him for duets.

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