Home » Arts & Culture » Louis Mhlanga Comes Home

Acclaimed guitar maestro and singer Louis Mhlanga returns home this weekend with a show at the upmarket Misty’s in Newlands Shopping Centre tomorrow.

Mhlanga, who is renowned for his scintillating guitar skills, was last in the country two years ago and his return should be a refreshing reunion with local music lovers. He has shared the stage with some popular international performers and is expected to delight his fans with a mix of new and old songs.

The South Africa-based Zimbabwean is an award winning guitarist and music producer who has worked with groups that include Shaka, Talking Drum, Ilanga, Mudzimu and superstar Oliver Mtukudzi.

The show at Misty’s is one of the big shows lined up for this weekend as the touring Mokoomba is expected rock the stage tonight.

There is no doubt, jazz lovers are expected to turn up in their numbers for what appears to be the show of the week. For those not in the know, Mhlanga’s career began in the 1970s.

Fronting many bands in Zimbabwe, he mixed American and Zimbabwean influences into his music. He headed to South Africa to pursue different musical opportunities, leading to collaborations with renowned South African artistes such as Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Ray Phiri, Sipho Mabuse, and Busi Mhlongo among others.

He admired the traditionally derived pop music of local luminaries such as Dr Thomas Mapfumo.

His first recording was not recognised for a whole decade until BMG released it in South Africa in the early ’90s. However, his 2001 international debut, “Shamwari”, established him as a rare guitarist able to span African traditional pop and jazz.

In April 2000, Louis produced Mahlasela’s fourth album and featured on it. Before that, in 1999, a live duo recording with Mahlasela resulted in the album “Vusi and Louis Live at the Bassline”.

He was involved with Thandi Klaassen’s album “Two of a Kind”, a project initiated by Dutch singer Stef Bos. In 2001, he put together a new group, The Louis Mhlanga Band, featuring musicians with a g jazz influence. They were invited by SAFM (one of South Africa’s national radio stations) to perform at the Grahamstown Standard Bank National Arts Festival.

Subsequently the group released the album “Shamwari”, Louis’s debut release on the Sheer Sound label. A former director of musical theatre, Mhlanga also ran Zimbabwe’s Ethnomusicology Trust, where he was in charge of developing national teaching programmes for traditional and contemporary Zimbabwean music.

Source : The Herald

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