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Art and Culture, Artists Profiles

Louis Mhlanga – Artist Bio

Born in Zimbabwe in 1956, Louis Mhlanga is one of the most esteemed guitar
players in Southern Africa. He started playing the guitar at the age of 10, imitating
the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple
and other rock stars from the 60s and 70s. He also studied both Southern and West
African guitar traditions, and successfully incorporated the traditional mbira (thumb
piano) patterns of the Shona people into his unique modern electric guitar style.
Mhlanga is known for his collaborations as much as his solo work. He features on the
1996 collaborative album ‘Place of Hope’ alongside international stars like George
Duke, James Ingram and Al Jarreau. He can also be heard on Andy Narell’s ‘Fire in
the Engine Room’ (2000) and ‘Live in South Africa’ (2001). In 1999 he recorded
‘Live At The Bassline’ with Vusi Mahlasela. Musik Ye Afrika, another collaborative
band, is the brainchild of Louis and his long-time friend, bassist Jimi Indi. They
recorded their first album in 1997, following it in mid-2003 with ‘United We Stand’,
featuring stars like Oliver Mtukudzi, Busi Mhlongo, Chiwoniso Maraire, Marcus Wyatt,
Bushy Seatlholo and Sydney Mnisi. ‘Keeping the Dream’ (2004) was another
collaborative album, this time with Dutch bassist Eric van der Westen, also featuring
Senegal’s Habib Koite.
Mhlanga’s first solo album, ‘Mukai’ (2000) received high acclaim and further
established him in the South African market. The Louis Mhlanga Band came into
being in 2001, featuring formidable South Africa jazz heavyweights Andile Yenana
(keys), Denis Lalouette (bass), Sello Montwedi (drums) and Basi Mahlasela
(percussion). They were invited by SAFM to perform a recorded concert during the
2001 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, resulting in the release of ‘Shamwari’,
Mhlanga’s first album on the Sheer Sound Label. The SAMA-nominated follow-up in
2004, ‘Tinganekwane’ (Stories), showcased Louis’ signature style, revisiting
traditional Zimbabwe flavours interspersed with some surprises.

Louis Mhlanga

About Connie V

Constance van Niekerk, (Connie V) is a South African-based Zimbabwean-born creative writer, poet, music lover, spoken word artist, freelance writer, blogger and educator. She has contributed to several anthologies and published her own collection, Echoes of My Heart: A Poetry Collection available for purchase on all Amazon Stores Worldwide. She is also Editor at ZimOnlineNews. Follow her on Twitter : @convanniekerk Connect with her on Facebook and Linkedin.

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Meet the site blogger

Connie V

Connie V

Constance van Niekerk, (Connie V) is a South African-based Zimbabwean-born creative writer, poet, music lover, spoken word artist, freelance writer, blogger and educator. She has contributed to several anthologies and published her own collection, Echoes of My Heart: A Poetry Collection available for purchase on all Amazon Stores Worldwide. She is also Editor at ZimOnlineNews. Follow her on Twitter : @convanniekerk Connect with her on Facebook and Linkedin.

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