Vusa Mkhaya: Vocalism (Arc)

 |   |  <1 min read

Vusa Mkhaya: Diaspora
Vusa Mkhaya: Vocalism (Arc)

The recent Paul Simon concerts and reissue of Graceland doubtless reminded many of the vocal power of the great South African ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo who were on that album and Simon's subsequent tours.

If you yearn for an artist who can hit the middle ground between Mambazo, genius juju guitarist King Sunny Ade and a kind of fine-grain sandpaper soul style, then Vusa Mkhaya from Zimbabwe is your man - and you gotta love guitarists called Handsome Mabhiza and Ramadu who lay down the often shimmering and soft substructure on which these vocals (not solely by Mkhaya) sit.

Here are a wedding song (sung in a slightly yearing, female pop style by Nomathamsanqa Mkhwananzi who soars like a bullet fired into the clouds on Khetha Eyakho), old school African soul balladry (a sinner asking for forgiveness on S'Thethelela), gospel (Ukukhala/Mourning) and, improbably, a polyphonic yodel song from Austria here given an almost holy treatment (Schweinsbeuschel).

Mkhaya draws from very diverse source material (there's a Hungarian folk song here too which is woven in seamlessly) but the overall effect is of voices in harmony as they search for deeply felt expression.

Quietly wonderful and you suspect Mkhaya isn't going to trouble you with Don't Worry Be Happy.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

Various Artists: Music of the Santal Tribe (ARC Music)

Various Artists: Music of the Santal Tribe (ARC Music)

At Elsewhere we've observed as recently as earlier this year -- in a review regarding the Taranaki Womad -- how much festival-programmed "world music" has become just... > Read more

TEN SONGS WHICH CONJURE UP A MYTHICAL PACIFIC: From Blue Hawaii to the mean streets of urban Auckland

TEN SONGS WHICH CONJURE UP A MYTHICAL PACIFIC: From Blue Hawaii to the mean streets of urban Auckland

Auckland, the city with the largest Polynesian population in the world, has an annual Pasifika Festival to celebrate this cultural diversity. But the songs picked here conjure up a mythical... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Billy Joel: A New York state of mind

Billy Joel: A New York state of mind

Billy and I were introduced while he was having his lunch. He gestured for me to join him and help myself to the generous pile of sandwiches on the table, multi-level affairs held together by long... > Read more

Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior (Southbound)

Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior (Southbound)

At the time of Richard Thompson's excellent Rumour and Sigh album in '97 I decided I'd had enough of hearing how he was a cult figure whose albums never sold: so I did an interview with him (he had... > Read more