Thomas Mapfumo


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Inspired in part by American soul and rock & roll, Thomas Mapfumo began singing and playing guitar in the '60s. In the '70s, though, he turned his attention to the music of his native Zimbabwe, resplendent with the sounds of the mbiri (thumb piano). And while his politically charged lyrics would get him jailed by the white minority government of the time, he made it out in time to celebrate Zimbabwe's 1978 independence. Along with his Blacks Unlimited band, he cut several popular albums for the Earthworks label in the '80s, all featuring his chimurenga (struggle) songs and an Afro-pop backdrop of bass, guitars, drums, horns, backing vocals, and mbira. By 1989, he began recording for Mango and released this, his international debut disc. Now taking on the failed government that took power after independence, Mapfumo continues apace here with fluid grooves and potent barbs. A highlight of the singer's catalog.

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