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Thomas Mapfumo and the polularization of Shona Mbira

Banning Eyre

Abstract


The music of Thomas Mapfumo is frequently described as a pop adaptation of traditional mbira music, the ancient ceremonial performance art of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. While this is an oversimplification of Mapfumo’s varied repertoire, mbira is an important, perhaps the most important, aspect of the artist’s work. My book, Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe (2015) interweaves Zimbabwean history with the biography and music of this under-recognized African innovator, composer, and bandleader.1 This article, adapted from the Lion Songs manuscript, attempts to clarify Thomas’s role first in helping to revive the status of mbira music in his own country, and then in developing an audience for it internationally.

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21504/amj.v10i1.1227

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