Guiding Star

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Guiding Star is South African singer/songwriter Vusi Mahlasela's sixth album overall -- and his second to be issued in the United States. This record seems to be a priority for his label, ATO. Rightfully so. When The Voice -- his first set for the label -- was issued in 2003, they were hopeful; it was thought that based on his appearance in the Amandla! film, and given his reputation as one of the premier poets and musicians coming out of South Africa, that he'd be a natural with American audiences. To its credit, ATO is a "stick by its artists no matter what" outfit, and the label knows talent. The Voice did reasonably well for an indie, and was widely celebrated ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Guiding Star is South African singer/songwriter Vusi Mahlasela's sixth album overall -- and his second to be issued in the United States. This record seems to be a priority for his label, ATO. Rightfully so. When The Voice -- his first set for the label -- was issued in 2003, they were hopeful; it was thought that based on his appearance in the Amandla! film, and given his reputation as one of the premier poets and musicians coming out of South Africa, that he'd be a natural with American audiences. To its credit, ATO is a "stick by its artists no matter what" outfit, and the label knows talent. The Voice did reasonably well for an indie, and was widely celebrated critically. Yet, as good as it was, Guiding Star stands head and shoulders above it, and the music will speak that to anyone who hears it. ATO is trying to underscore this on the sleeve of the CD, accenting a few of the many guests who appear here. American audiences will recognize Dave Matthews, Derek Trucks, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and some will recognize Xavier Rudd. There is a problem with this kind of marketing, however. African music and world music purists might mistakenly think that these appearances water down Mahlasela's Afro-pop magic, and that these "special guests" are added only as a commodity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Matthews' voice has a high profile since he is a duet partner on "Sower of Words" (the only track he appears on), but it's a hell of a song, no matter who is singing it. The other folks mentioned contribute a guitar or a backing vocal here and there. In other words, they collaborated with Mahlasela, not vice versa. With the exception of Ladysmith on "Heaven in My Heart" and Black Moses Ngwenya on "Ntombi Mbali," sung in Zulu, anyone might have stepped into almost anyone else's shoes here; that's how focused and pronounced Mahlasela's vision is, making virtually everything else interchangeable. That said, these are only a few of the session players on Guiding Star -- there are 35 listed in the credits from all over the world and this does not include the African groups the KCC Choir or the Hlanganani Brothers! What this makes for is an African recording that truly embraced the musicians of the world and invited them into its musical terrain. From cut to cut, Guiding Star is simply stunning. This album was primarily recorded on farms, mostly in South Africa but elsewhere around the globe, too, at Mahlasela's insistence. As for the lyrics, a fair number of these tunes are in English -- this also was at Mahlasela's insistence -- but nearly half are either in Zulu, Sotho, or Pedi. Mahlasela's voice floats across its enormous range; he expresses all emotions in the grain of his voice and never has to reach too far, because his vocalizing is the very fabric of emotion itself. While the aforementioned tracks were cited by name as examples of performance personnel, virtually all of the 16 cuts here -- 15 songs and a bonus track -- are interchangeable in terms of quality. There is no critical distance needed here; this is easily Mahlasela's finest effort. It exists at the cultural crossroads where African pop and folk musics use and enrich one another, while inviting the rest of the globe in for an unforgettable listening experience.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/6/2007
  • Label: Ato Records
  • UPC: 880882156022
  • Catalog Number: 21560
  • Sales rank: 141,584

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Jabula (5:08)
  2. 2 Heaven in My Heart (4:44)
  3. 3 Moleko (3:27)
  4. 4 Chamber of Justice (4:40)
  5. 5 Tibidi Waka (3:42)
  6. 6 Everytime - Jem (4:15)
  7. 7 Sower of Words (4:23)
  8. 8 Ntombi Mbali (4:17)
  9. 9 River Jordan (4:59)
  10. 10 Song for Thandi (3:14)
  11. 11 Mighty River (3:26)
  12. 12 Thula Mama (3:42)
  13. 13 Our Sand (6:00)
  14. 14 Tonti (3:46)
  15. 15 Susana (3:17)
  16. 16 Pata Pata (4:33)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Vusi Mahlasela Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Dave Matthews Vocals
Paul Hamner Organ, Piano, Harmonium
Ian Herman Percussion, Drums
Lawrence Matshiza Acoustic Guitar
Black Moses Ngwenya Hammond Organ
Lloyd Ross Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Electric Guitar
Derek Trucks Slide Guitar
Jannie VanTonder Bass
Mauritz Lotz Electric Guitar
Kenny Mathaba Electric Guitar
Barry Snyman Saxophone
Pedro Sánchez Percussion
Nokwazi Mchunu Buyisiwe Vocals
Chris Faya Vocals
Sibusis Victor Masondo Strings, Bass Guitar
Mabi Thobejane Percussion
Lesego Rampolokeng Recitation
Albert Frost Electric Guitar
Queen Ranyama Background Vocals
Moses Mafiri Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocals
Xavier Rudd Vocals, Weissenborn
Chris Letcher Strings
Robin Auld Electric Guitar
Roger Bashew Organ
Wynand Davel Violin
Mzwakhe Diamini Vocals
Coco Dimba Vocals
Zinhle Dlamini Vocals
Ephraim Gumede Background Vocals
Hlanganani Brothers Vocals
Jem Vocals
Joseph Jili Vocals
Mimi Jili Vocals
KCC Choir Vocals
Mzwandile Kunene Vocals
Jabulani Kweyama Vocals
Lebohang Mafiri Vocals
Fikile Majola Vocals
Kwenza Majozi Vocals
George Manxola "Marco" Electric Guitar
Mathintane Concertina
Mthandeni Memela Vocals
Zinhle Mngadi Vocals
Relebogile Mogale Vocals
Solomon Motuba Background Vocals
Gugu Mzobe Vocals
Themba P. Ndawo Vocals
Andile Ndlovu Vocals
Pampam Ndlovu Vocals
Steve Newman Acoustic Guitar
July Phakathi Vocals
Christolene Plaatjies Vocals
Grace Seqeel Vocals
Julio Sigaque Electric Guitar
Xoli Sikhosana Vocals
Lani Van Der Merwe Cello
Ollie Vilioen Accordion
Meshack Xulu Vocals
Musa Zungu Vocals
Lady Fair Zwane Vocals
Technical Credits
Dorothy Masuka Composer
Greg Calbi Mastering
Lloyd Ross Engineer
Vusi Mahlasela Composer
Chris Tetzeli Management
Lance Nawa Composer
Warrick Sony Programming
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