February 2, 2009 — Vusi Mahlasela, an iconic South African singer, songwriter and poet-activist, will perform in the University of Virginia's Old Cabell Hall Auditorium Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. as part of his monthlong American tour.
Joining the legendary singer will be guitarist Mongezi Ntaka (formerly of Lucky Dube's band), bassist Bakithi Khumalo (of Paul Simon's group, known for his playing on "Graceland") and longtime drummer Ian Herman.
Tickets are $10 for the public and free for U.Va. students (limit two per ID), and are available at the Old Cabell Hall Box Office and Newcomb Hall Ticket Office.
Celebrated for his distinctive, powerful voice and his poetic, optimistic lyrics, Vusi's work has bridged generations in South Africa and abroad. His sound is a fusion of folk, world, blues and soul, and his songs of hope connect apartheid-scarred South Africa with its promise for a better future.
Born in the Mamelodi Township near Pretoria where he still resides, Vusi became a singer-songwriter-activist at an early age, teaching himself to play on a guitar he fashioned out of a cooking oil can and fishing line.
Today, he is recognized internationally as a poetic voice of the Freedom Struggle. Americans first saw and heard Vusi in the acclaimed documentary film "Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony," and in the soundtrack for the Academy Award-winning movie "Tsotsi."
In addition to a string of celebrated albums in South Africa, he has released two albums in the U.S. on Dave Matthew's ATO Records, including his most recent release, "Guiding Star."
This year, Vusi joined Paul Simon for a week of shows in New York, titled "Under African Skies," and performed with Josh Groban and the Soweto Gospel Choir at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday celebration before a crowd of 50,000 in London's Hyde Park. (The concert benefited Mandela's HIV/AIDS organization, of which Vusi is an ambassador.)
As fellow South African Matthews, a longtime fan, puts it, "Vusi has a profound beauty about him. He has a light on. … And that's something he would share with Bob Marley, Neil Young, Marvin Gaye or Miles Davis."