Vusi Mahlasela
South African singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela will perform a special benefit concert in support of 46664, Nelson Mandela's campaign to raise global awareness of AIDS/HIV, on March 29, 8 p.m. at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. The concert will also feature Taj Mahal, Mickey Hart and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. Mahlasela recently became one of the campaign's 40 ambassadors along with President Bill Clinton, Bono, and Oprah Winfrey. The 46664 benefit show is part of Mahlasela's spring tour in March, which is in support of his new album Guiding Star (ATO Records, March 6).

Four years ago, Vusi Mahlasela was well established as one of South Africa's foremost artists—essential to the country's music scene before, during and after Apartheid. Nelson Mandela asked Mahlasela to perform at his presidential inauguration, among many other accolades. Since the acclaimed 2002 film and soundtrack Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, which chronicles the movement in which he was instrumental, and the ATO Records release of the critically lauded Mahlasela collection The Voice (ATO Records, 2003), the singer-songwriter has become increasingly visible internationally, and especially in the U.S. His global connectedness and sensibility is clear on Guiding Star.

The variety of guests who appear on Guiding Star is evidence of the breadth of Mahlasela's musical interests and influences. Dave Matthews sings on "Sower of Words," Ladysmith Black Mambazo backs him on "Heaven In My Heart," and Derek Trucks lends his acoustic slide guitar to "Tibidi Waka." The song "Ntombi Mbali" features "Black Moses" Ngwenya, keyboardist of the legendary South African mbaqanga group, Soul Brothers. Australian multi-instrumentalist Xavier Rudd joins Mahlasela for the plaintive "Chamber of Justice," while Welsh singer-songwriter Jem contributes vocals to "Everytime."

Instrumental in Mahlasela's emergence in the U.S. has been Dave Matthews, who in late 2000 invited Vusi to provide guest vocals on the title track of the Dave Matthews Band's album Everyday. Matthews went a step further when he created ATO Pictures to help propel the film Amandla!, which featured Mahlasela. The soundtrack, released by ATO Records, included four Mahlasela songs. In November, Dave Matthews Band released their first greatest hits package, Best of What's Around, on which they chose to include a recent live version of "Everyday" featuring Mahlasela on vocals.

More recently Mahlasela contributed six songs to Tsotsi, the 2006 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. On the occasion of the Oscars, Mahlasela performed on NBC's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Mahlasela just made his second appearance at Carnegie Hall, as part of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Friends: Long Walk to Freedom. The performance included a duet with Natalie Merchant on "Redemption Song." Late last year, Mahlasela completed the American leg of the Acoustic Africa Tour, which featured Mali's Habib Koité and Dobet Gnahoré from the Ivory Coast.

Upcoming Vusi Mahlasela Tour Dates:
3/20/07 Belly Up Aspen, CO
03/21/07 Boulder Theater Boulder, CO
03/24/07 The Triple Door Seattle, WA
03/25/07 Berbati's Pan Portland, OR
03/27/07 Chicago Cultural Center Chicago, IL
03/29/07 The Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco, CA *
03/30/07 Skirball Cultural Center Los Angeles, CA
03/31/07 The Attic Santa Cruz, CA

*Benefit for Nelson Mandela's 46664 foundation featuring Taj Mahal, Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos.

For more information about Nelson Mandela's 46664 Charity please check out

Tickets for Mandela benefit: here.

[Published on: 3/9/07]

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bigrivermusic starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 10:20AM
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Way cool! South Africa elected a black President years ago. This country should be ashamed that an ex-apartheid country showed more racial tolerance than ours does. Viva Mandela!

DaMule starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/9/2007 10:55AM
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Vusi does a baller-ass soulshine with Warren Haynes Live at Bonnaoo CD. His voice is amazing.

phalluscooper star Fri 3/9/2007 11:10AM
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Great artist and greater cause but do your research bigrivermusic. Racism still exists in South Africa and their government(s) have been as crooked as any other. The ANC government is as corrupt as they come. Even more disturbing is that President Mbeki denies that AIDS is caused by HIV. His data would suggest that poverty has caused his country's PANDEMIC. His actions have blocked much needed funding for anti-retro viral therapies. His appearances and speeches at World AIDS day conferences have infuriated many.

bigrivermusic Sat 3/10/2007 10:49AM
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I wasn't at all saying that S. Africa has somehow transformed into Utopia. My point is that we, as a country built on the backs of the enslaved, has a lot of catching up to do. I would also echo your points about the HIV/aids pandemic, Mbeki's comments were truly shameful. Peace!

cmaxwell Sat 3/10/2007 08:07PM
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So if you the typical resident of a country is treated like shit by your government, you are championing some sort of cause by making a change when empowered? The international community (including our shameful evil one)pressured S. Africa until the apartheid was gone. Naturally, the voices of the oppressed were elected. I hate how some of our own always find a way to down our country.

bigrivermusic Sun 3/11/2007 11:17PM
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cmaxwell Sun 3/11/2007 11:34PM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstar Mon 3/12/2007 04:30AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

Vusi new cd guiding light is a great cultural release!!
Derek Trucks is one a track and Xavier Rudd is on one too.
peace ya'll

nuke_ticketbastard Wed 3/14/2007 07:43AM
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taj mahal is the man! one of the best shows i've seen in a long time. truly a legend in his own time. if u ever get the chance do yourself a favor and check him out. u will not be disappointed!!!! most fun since jerry!!!