Get Vusi Mahlasela‘s latest album Sing to the People at the ATO Store.

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Twenty years ago, folk-singer, world-troubadour and widely celebrated poet-activist Vusi Mahlasela, simply known as “The Voice”, recorded his first album, When You Come Back. The title-track instantly became an anthem in Vusi’s native South Africa as his country fought hard to end, and then heal, from the brutal Apartheid regime that had divided the country since 1948. In celebration of this milestone, Vusi released Sing to the People – a live album recorded at the Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg and available online and in stores through ATO Records in the US and on Vusi’s own label, VusiMuzi, in South Africa.

Sing to the People contains joyful performances of songs recorded throughout the first twenty years of Vusi’s career as well as the visceral sounds of an audience responding to every familiar note. In the a capella intro to the song “When You Come Back,” Vusi’s signature and unmistakable bird-like voice soars “Sing Loud and SING TO THE PEOPLE.”  Although written nearly 25 years ago the meaning of the song has evolved but the prevailing theme remains the same. It’s a “call for humanity,” says The Voice. “I ask that we ‘give something to the world and not just take from it.’” The message is universal and remains relevant today.

In 2012, the SAMA Awards (South African Music Awards) honored Vusi with a Lifetime Achievement award to recognize his accomplishments both at home and abroad. The honor inspired the troubadour to take a look back and realize that what felt like a blink of the eye had nearly been two decades! In that time, Vusi had performed at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration; signed a record deal that would lead to seven studio albums; toured the world over and performed in front of audiences of diverse cultures; shared the stage with Dave Matthews Band, Sting, Natalie Merchant, Paul Simon, Ray LaMontagne and more; and helped ring in the World Cup at home in South Africa at Orlando Stadium.

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