FUSICOLOGY: It is noted that while both Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela have been like-minded musical comrades at home in South Africa for years and shared the stage on several occasions, this marks their debut tour joining forces together. What made this the right time to tour together?
VUSI MAHLASELA: IT’S SOMETHING WE’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO BUT WE’RE KIND OF LIKE TWO SHIPS IN THE NIGHT WITH OUR BUSY TOURING SCHEDULES. WE REALIZED THAT IT WOULD BE GREAT TO JOIN FORCES AND CELEBRATE THE MUSIC THAT WAS SO IMPORTANT DURING THE STRUGGLE AND CONTINUES TO BE.
FUS: Vusi’s last release “Say Africa” was released in 2010 which was produced by Taj Mahal and featured the track “Nak Upenda Africa” with Angelique Kidjo – how was it like working with her?
VUSI: ANGELIQUE IS AMAZING— ENDLESS ENERGY. WE’VE WORKED TOGETHER MANY TIMES, SHARING THE STAGE ALL OVER THE WORLD. SHE BROUGHT A GREAT TOUCH TO THE RECORD AND WE WERE SO HAPPY TO HAVE HER ON THAT SONG.
FUS: Are there plans for a follow up album?
FUS: Please share what it was like to perform at Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday
VUSI: IT WAS AN AMAZING NIGHT. SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL HAPPENED— I WAS STANDING BACKSTAGE WAITING TO ON STAGE FOR MY PERFORMANCE AND ALL OF A SUDDEN MADIBA CAME ON STAGE IN A GOLF CART WITH HIS WIFE. SOMEHOW I HADN’T HEARD THAT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO CLEAR THE STAGE TO MAKE ROOM FOR HIM AS HE WAS ABOUT TO GO ON STAGE AND HAVE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” SUNG TO HIM. ANYWAY, THERE I WAS AND ENDED UP GETTING WEDGED BETWEEN HIS GOLF CART AND SOME SOUND GEAR ON THE STAGE AND COULDN’T REALLY MOVE. I GOT TO SIT THERE WITH FOR ABOUT 10 MINS WHILE HE WAITED FOR THEM TO CALL HIM ONTO THE STAGE. THAT WAS THE LAST TIME I GOT TO BE IN HIS PRESENCE AND I’LL NEVER FORGET IT.
FUS: In the documentary Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmonywhere, the days of Apartheid were recalled. How was it to be a part of this doc and live through the fall of Apartheid?
VUSI: THE DIRECTOR OF THAT FILM, LEE HIRSCH, IS A GREAT GUY AND QUITE A CHARACTER. HE WAS DOWN IN S. AFRICA IN MAMELODI HWERE I LIVE ALWAYS HANGING OUT WITH ME, MY GRANDMOTHERS, MY COMERADES. WE DIDN’T REALLY KNOW WHAT THE FILM WOULD BE LIKE BUT IT TURNED OUT GREAT AND REALLY TELLS THE STORY WELL AND CONVEYS HOW IMPORTANT THE MUSIC TRULY WAS.
FUS: In 2007, Vusi spoke of apartheid and performed “Thula Mama” at the TED Conference in Arusha, Tanzania then in 2008 at TED in Monterey, CA – how was it like to do TED and are there future plans to do more of these types of conferences?
VUSI: TED IS GREAT AND I’VE LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THE OTHER SPEAKERS. IT’S A GREAT WAY TO UNPLUG FOR 3-4 DAYS AND JUST ABSORB SO MANY THOUGHTS.