Louis Mhlanga


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), Denny 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.


Track artwork
Paul Speaks To Louis Mhlanga (Jazz Guitarist) And He Tells Of His Musical Journey


ZAJohannesburg, South Africa


Tumi Peter
Profile added by Linda Gabriel on 23 Jul 2014