Vusi Mahlasela is simply known as ‘The Voice’ in his home-country, South Africa. He is celebrated for his distinct, powerful voice and his poetic, optimistic lyrics. His songs of hope connect Apartheid-scarred South Africa with its promise for a better future. Raised in the Mamelodi Township, where he still resides, Vusi became a singer-songwriter and poet-activist at an early age teaching himself how to play guitar and later joining the Congress of South African Writers. After his popular debut on BMG Africa, “When You Come Back,” Vusi was asked to perform at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994. Vusi has released seven studio albums to-date and has toured globally and shared the stage with Dave Matthews Band, Sting, Paul Simon, Josh Groban, Ray LaMontagne, Natalie Merchant, Taj Mahal, among many others.

In light of his international and national acclaim, the SAMA Awards (South African Music Awards) honored Vusi with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.  Vusi was proud to have been an ambassador to Nelson Mandela’s 46664 campaign (an awareness effort surrounding the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa) and holds an honorary doctorate degrees from the prestigious Rhodes University in Grahamstown, SA and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  Additionally, South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma awarded Vusi with the National Order of Ikhamanga, recognizing him for “drawing attention to the injustices that isolated South Africa from the global community during the Apartheid years.”

This profile was last updated on August 1, 2017

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MLI XXXII Vusi Concert

Mind and Life Institute • August 19, 2017