Say Africa (ATO Records), the new album from Vusi Mahlasela, is out today.
The celebrated South African singer-songwriter, poet and activist will celebrate its release with a month-long tour of the United States.
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Vusi has just added a series of headlining shows that will follow his outing with Amos Lee, which kicks off this Thursday, January 20th, at Seattle's Moore Theater. See below for a full itinerary.
While in the States, Vusi will also perform at the February 26th TRIBUTE show at New York City's Apollo Theater, which will be filmed for a PBS special.
The event - one of three being held during Black History Month - will pay tribute to the civil rights movement.
Karz Productions is partnering with public schools, teacher associations and local civic organizations on the TRIBUTE events. Net proceeds will be donated to the Chicago and East Bronx sections of the National Council of Negro Women and to Atlanta public schools. Jessye Norman will MC the Apollo event, which will also feature Nicole Cabell, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Harlem Quartet and PS22 Children's Chorus.
The New York Times praised Vusi's "tone-shifting improvisations" while the Los Angeles Times observed: "His performances are optimistic and soulful, delivered with an intensity that captures the attention and embraces the heart," "If Mahlasela embodies his country's spirit, there is plenty of cause for hope," said the Times of London.
Say Africa, produced by legendary bluesman Taj Mahal, was recorded at Dave Matthews Band's studio in Charlottesville, VA.
The album captures Vusi's hope for the future of his homeland. Fusing folk, world, blues and soul music, he bridges generations and continents with a universal message of freedom and the strength of the human spirit.
Say Africa features bassist Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon), guitarist Mongezi Ntaka (Lucky Dube) and Ian Herman, Vusi's longtime South African band mate, drummer and musical director. Mahal contributes vocals and banjo to the exquisite love song, "In Anyway," and GRAMMY®-winning vocalist Angélique Kidjo guests on the rousing "Nakupenda Africa." The album closes with "Ntate Mandela," his tribute to Nelson Mandela.
Vusi is an ambassador for 46664, Mandela's HIV/AIDS initiative, and performed at his 1994 inauguration and at Mandela's 90th and 91st birthday celebrations.
Vusi Mahlasela is simply known as "The Voice" in his native South Africa - a nod to his distinct, powerful voice and his poetic, optimistic lyrics. Raised in the Mamelodi Township, where he still resides, Vusi became a singer-songwriter at an early age, teaching himself how to play guitar and later joining the Congress of South African Writers. He has released six studio albums in South Africa. His appearance in the documentary film Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony and on the accompanying soundtrack brought him to the attention of North American audiences.
Dave Matthews signed Vusi to ATO Records, which released Mahlasela's best-of collection, The Voice, in 2003, and Guiding Star, his first full-length album in the States, in 2007. In 2008, Vusi joined Paul Simon for a week of shows in New York entitled "Under African Skies." He was featured on Béla Fleck's 2009 GRAMMY-winning album, Throw Down Your Heart, and joined Fleck on tour.
Vusi recently sat in with Dave Matthews Band at Madison Square Garden as they performed the song "Everyday."
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Vusi Mahlasela 2011 U.S. tour dates:
(Dates and information subject to change.)
1/20 Seattle, WA Moore Theater with Amos Lee
1/21 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom with Amos Lee
1/22 Eugene, OR McDonald Theater with Amos Lee
1/24 Chico, CA El Rey with Amos Lee
1/25 San Francisco, CA Fillmore with Amos Lee
1/27 Los Angeles, CA Music Box with Amos Lee
1/28 Anaheim, CA House of Blues with Amos Lee
1/29 San Diego, CA House of Blues with Amos Lee
1/30 Tucson, AZ Rialto Theatre with Amos Lee
2/1 Salt Lake City, UT The Depot with Amos Lee
2/3 Beaver Creek, CO Vilar Center with Amos Lee
2/4 Aspen, CO Belly Up with Amos Lee
2/5 Boulder, CO Boulder Theatre with Amos Lee
2/7 Lawrence, KS Liberty Hall with Amos Lee
2/9 Tulsa, OK Cains with Amos Lee
2/10 Dallas, TX House of Blues with Amos Lee
2/11 Austin, TX Paramount with Amos Lee
2/12 Houston, TX House of Blues with Amos Lee
2/13 Minneapolis, MN Dakota Jazz Club headlining
2/14 Chicago, IL Mayne Stage headlining
2/16 Northampton, MA Iron Horse headlining
2/17 Cambridge, MA Regatta Bar headlining
2/20 Charlottesville, VA The Jefferson headlining
2/21 Annapolis, MD Ram's Head On Stage headlining
2/22 New York, NY Sounds of Brazil (SOBs) headlining
2/23 Philadelphia, PA World Café Live headlining
2/26 New York, NY Apollo Theater - for PBS Civil Rights Special
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