The Sensational ‘Voice’ of South Africa

Eve M. Ferguson

 

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in the Washington Informer. Read the rest here.

 

There was a time when the protests against apartheid in South Africa were strengthened and inspired by a rich musical legacy in the nation. Now that apartheid has been abolished, much of the music that streamed from the townships is changing. But “The Voice” of South Africa, guitarist and singer Vusi Mahlasela, plans to keep that legacy alive.

 

“It certainly has changed dramatically,” Mahlasela said. “There’s a lot of pop music now, and I often worry that we’re losing sight of much of the great music from our greats such as Miriam Makeba, the Dark City Sisters, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. I’ve been really focused on trying to preserve this township music.”

 

“I just recently recorded a live album at my grandmother’s shebeen in the Mamelodi township. My grandmother raised me, and it was in her bar that I first heard all of this great music and got my start and inspiration. Music and culture evolve and that’s great, but I want to make sure to do my part in preserving what once was and what may be again.”

 

 

Mahlasela and his band [brought] the culture to Sixth and I on Oct. 27, as part of Washington Performing Arts’ season-spanning program, “Home,” which explores the questions of identity and cultural history through a series of curated performances by diverse artists.

 

Mahlasela, in his youthful days as a composer and performer, served as a determined and forceful rallying figure in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Today, he continues to be acknowledged as a global messenger of peace and compassion.

 

Mahlasela has seen his share of hardship, as he was held in solitary confinement and repeatedly harassed by police during the racially charged era for the “crime” of writing protest music calling for freedom and human dignity. As a result, his songwriting became even more profuse and directed, serving as a source of self-healing and a balm for his audience.

 

Vusi Mahlasela and his band will performed at the Sixth and I (600 I Street NW) on Saturday, Oct. 27, in Washington DC.

 

This is an excerpt from an article originally published in the Washington Informer. Read the rest here.

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Photographer: 
Vusi Mahlasela; Wikipedia Commons
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