Play this while you read, from the new album by Vusa Mkhaya, “Ukukhala” .
For those of you who missed it, I recently posted an excellent youtube video of Vusa Mkhaya and Mamadou Diabate.
Ask Vusa Mkhaya about his music and he will tell you that the voice is his favourite instrument. Born in Zimbabwe, and well known for fronting the vocal trio, Insingizi, he has now lived in Vienna for many years and has finally released his first solo album, “Vocalism”. The title speaks for itself. But is it his solo album ? Delve further and he will tell you about the philosophy of “Ubuntu” .
“In Zimbabwe we have a saying: ‘a child belongs to everyone in the village’. This is how I felt working on Vocalism in my home town of Bulawayo.” Thus, the spirit of Ubuntu is the spirit of sharing and togetherness.
Old friends dropped by to say “Hi” and see what Vusa was up to. When they saw what was happening everyone wanted to join in. The result is an album of deep, perfect, wrap-around harmonies that celebrate the joy of singing, and such a joy to listen to it is.
Vusa’s heroes are Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and you will, of course, hear their influence everywhere on the album but you will also hear performances that talk of more than Africa.
“Brunnenmarkt” is about a market in Vienna whilst “Schweinsbeuschel” , an Austrian song, is simply beautiful.
Lilting guitars trip through “Sohlangana Khona (We will meet there)” where Vusa takes the lead vocal, as he does more prominently on some tracks. Accompaniment throughout the album is minimal. The focus is the voice.
This is a gentle, laid back album that never fails to raise the spirits on the bluest day. The vocals are warm and perfectly balanced and you feel that you would be safe in the arms of this music, come what may.
Vusa is clearly a talented vocalist and has an ear for tone, which for me, is as important as the harmonies created. For his first “solo” album he has created a treat and an excellent example of African choral singing.
Give it a try here, – you can’t help but smile and be peaceful.