Mandela records tribute song vocal

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Nelson Mandela has recorded a spoken-word vocal for a song composed in his honour

Nelson Mandela is making a bid for the charts after recording a spoken-word vocal for a song composed in his honour.

The 92-year-old former South African president made his recording debut on the track, called The Mandela Suite, written by Irish musician John Hughes.

He met Mr Mandela while managing The Corrs, who played at a South Africa Freedom Day concert in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2001.

He heard him tell the assembled musicians: “Music is a great blessing. It has the power to elevate us and liberate us. It sets people free to dream, it can unite us to sing with one voice. Such is the value of music.”

Hughes decided he wanted to set those words to music, saying: “I didn’t even write down what Mandela had said because I didn’t need to. Every word he said stuck in my head.

“There he was, a man who had spent 27 years as a prisoner of conscience, invoking music as having the power to bring freedom. I wanted the whole world to hear that.”

The song, which also features lyrics translated into 10 different African languages, will be released on March 28 after an extract of the video was featured on YouTube on Friday – the 21st anniversary of Mr Mandela’s release from prison.

Extracts from Mr Mandela’s speeches have been set to music before but this is the first time he has made an original recording.

His time in prison inspired the founder of The Specials, Jerry Dammers, to write and record the single (Free) Nelson Mandela, which went to number 9 in the charts in 1984.

Dammers later organised the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in London in 1988.

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