Thomas Mapfumo, or “the Lion of Zimbabwe” as millions have dubbed him, was born in 1945 in Marondera, a small town south of the Rhodesian capital (now known as Zimbabwe), Salisbury(now called Harare). As Thomas first worked with the band called the Acid Band, and then with the Blacks Unlimited, his creativity soared. He had begun to sing using Shona lyrics and traditional Shona rhythms as the revolution in Zimbabwe flared. Thomas’s lyrics reflected the concerns of the people around him-hardships in the rural areas, young men heading into the bush to fight Zimbabwe’s bitter war for independence, and a rising sense of indignation at white rulers who had systematically devalued Shona culture for four generations.
The latest release from this World Music superstar (details and background below) is titled “Choice Chimurenga”. It aims to pool the very best of Mapfumo’s incredible body of work from recent times whilst he has been living in the USA as an exile and working with the “Anonym Records”label there. Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited shared the stage in Salisbury (now called Harare) with Bob Marley and the Wailers.
His tours have taken him to the finest World Music venues, WOMAD three times, Summerjam in Germany, The Cactus Festival, The Houston International Festival, Detroit’s Symphony Hall, Central Park Summerstage, Celebrate Brooklyn, The Grassroots Festival, Bright Moments, all over the USA, yearly from 1998 through 2003. His live shows transfix the audience, taking them to his plane of musical spiritual possession; they dance until the lights come on, and go home smiling.
The electric mbiras lay the beat for the guitar, bass, and drums, which pulse out the Chimurenga style, both masters andcreators of a unique musical genre. The full band explodes with energy, the smaller groupings smoulder and ignite. It’s the ROOT of the Roots, something that must be experienced.
Thomas Mapfumo will be going on tour in the US to promote his latest offerin “Choice Chimurenga”. We urge those in the States who has never seen a Thomas Mapfumo live performance to definitely catch it when he lands in your city!