Vusi Mahlasela: ‘The Voice’ on spreading African spirit through song

Story highlightsWith over 20 years experience, Vusi Mahlasela is one of Africa’s most lauded singersThrough his international success, he focuses on spreading African philosophy, UbuntuHe has established a foundation nurturing young African talent and providing music lessons

He is lauded as one of Africa’s most unique voices, with a fanbase stretching across the world, but South African singing sensation Vusi Mahlasela remains faithful to his roots.

For more than 20 years, the legendary singer has been celebrated globally for his powerful vocals and universal messages of freedom and human kindness. He has toured the world extensively and collaborated with major music stars such as Sting, Paul Simon and Dave Matthews.

But despite all his success and international acclaim, Mahlasela still resides in Mamelodi, the small township northeast of Pretoria where he grew up and nurtured his passion and talent for music.

He says it all started for him here.

The singer is now focusing on helping younger generations, supporting Africa’s future generation of musicians and songwriters through the foundation he created in 2000.

“It is to give music lessons, but also to develop even those who are playing already and we do have outreach programs for primary schools,” says Mahlasela.

“They’re trying to encourage the schools and the governments to give lessons to the young ones and to encourage also the musicians or the students to start picking up folk, indigenous, traditional instruments, because it’s something that they really have to be proud of and to infuse them with Western instruments.”

On stage, Ubuntu shines through. Mahlasela’s distinctive vocals blend in wonderfully with his enchanting music, taking the listeners on an emotional journey.

“My music is sort of more accessible to every listener, young and old, they love my music,” he says.

“And I’ve seen it also happen that I have also gotten that energy back from the people — performing and after that when I’m going out there to sign CDs people will come to me with quite a lot of different great compliments, so it gives me the pleasurable feeling that I can really give something to the people and that will really change their lives to the better.”


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