Vusi Mahlasela

Genres: World
Decades: 1990s 2000s


Vusi Sidney Mahlasela Ka Zwane, 1965, Lady Selbourne, Pretoria, South Africa. One of the most distinctive voices in South African music, Mahlasela carried the torch for his country in Europe and North America at a time when he was relatively unfêted at home.

Growing up in Mamelodi township, Mahlasela began singing and playing home-made guitar at an early age. He was writing his own material by his teens and was already influenced by the social and political injustices so prevalent in the South Africa of his youth. This awareness was intensified when he joined the blacklisted poetry troupe Ancestors Of Africa and later the Congress Of South African Writers. His 1992 recording debut When You Come Back was a classic of political African folk pop, with stirring arrangements, sublime singing, and reflective lyrics dedicated to exiled South Africans, notably on the English language tracks ‘When You Come Back’ and ‘In Solitary...

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