Vusi Mahlasela, also known as “The Voice” was born in 1965. He started his musical career as a teen and has become nothing less than a hit since then. Common themes that appear in his music are of freedom, peace, hope, and optimism of a better life—especially for those in South Africa during apartheid. He is constantly giving back to his home country because South Africa was a catalyst for his popularity as a musician. Apartheid was what fueled him to express his views and his actions against the political and social restrictions of the time. The racial segregation enforced by the South African government made it so 1/7th of the country was ‘black area’ while the rest of it was for the whites, who were the minorities in South Africa. These black developments were not only inferior to the white developments but also restricted to their own type of ‘tribal’ music–repressing other forms of musical expressions. Those who opposed this left or were exiled. Mahlasela joined a group of poets, musicians, and actors in the 80’s that spoke out against the social and political repression. He also joined the Congress of South African Writers, where he furthered his expression against apartheid.
Going into the 90’s Mahlasela was beginning to enter into the international music scene with a mix of jazz and his traditional music style. Though he was becoming more popular, he never ceased to express his anti-apartheid view. One of his biggest hits ‘When You Come Back’ is dedicated to all of those who sacrificed their lives to exile. His music, as well as his messages about the anti-apartheid movement, exposed many people to the problems in South Africa. His greatest honor was playing at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 which marked an end to apartheid in South Africa. Mahlasela continues to sing with his common themes of hope and freedom, as well as singing to help fight HIV-AIDS. (1) (2)
Vusi Mahlasela – “When You Come Back”
(1) “Mahlasela, Vusi (South Africa).” SOUTH AFRICAN MUSIC. Music.org.za. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <http://www.music.org.za/artist.asp?id=102>.
(2) “Bio | Vusi Mahlasela.” Vusi Mahlasela. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <http://vusimahlasela.com/bio/>.
(3) “Vusi Mahlasela “When You Come Back” from Live 8.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.9 Nov. 2006. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akFP6Y5bLEs>.