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Vusi Mahlasela

Vusi Mahlasela

Biography

Born into a poor South African family in 1965, Vusi Mahlasela's story reads like a grandfather's artfully exaggerated hard-luck tale -- only his is true. He really did build his first guitar out of fishing line and tin when he was just a kid. Reared in Mamalodi Township, Mahlasela experienced the final ugly days of apartheid. He joined the apartheid protest movement in his teens, while simultaneously developing his skills as a singer and songwriter. As a regular presence at protests and funerals, Mahlasela crossed the apartheid government repeatedly; police routinely seized his writings and would jail him intermittently. After apartheid ended, Mahlasela began recording and performing regularly, but it wasn't until the release of the 2003 documentary film Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony that a wider world audience was introduced to him. That year he signed to fellow South African Dave Matthews' ATO Records, which released The Voice, a compilation of his best songs to date. In 2007 Mahlasela returned to the international stage with Guiding Star. Mahlasela's delicate guitar playing and uncannily soulful voice guide songs that tack between indigenous South African styles and a global singer-songwriter tradition.
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