The Odyssey




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The Odyssey and Putumayo Present

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Hear Thomas Mapfumo perform
Nyama Yekugocha

(One-minute sample)

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Thomas Mapfumo
Thomas Mapfumo knows the motivational power of music. With his chimurenga songs of struggle, he helped to steal the will of his Shona people in their fight for an independent, black-governed Zimbabwe. But it wasn't always so. Today's dreadlocked "lion of Zimbabwe" got his start playing covers of Western hits in groups like the Hallelujah Chicken Run, Cosmic Four Dots, and the Acid Band.

Mapfumo found his groove when he began to adapt traditional mbira(thumb piano) music for the modern guitar. Adding bass, trap drums and vocals, he produced a loping, spiritual sound that rapidly caught fire when mixed with a cleverly obscure but revolutionary message. He called his band the Blacks Unlimited, a not-so-subtle challenge to the country's white authorities who often banned his songs and once threw him in jail.

Related Dispatch
Thumbing the mbira
The message of the Shona speaks from the Mbira
Relive it here!

"Nyama Yekugocha" reflects the group's evolution and maturity since Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980. A strong horn section and keyboards add couterpoint to the basic guitar, bass and drums to produce a somewhat different style based on the naororombe, a Shona dance with flutes.

Putumayo Logo About Putumayo
This information and world music sample are compliments of Putumayo World Music. Putumayo’s mission is to introduce people to other cultures through music, and towards this end they have released dozens of CDs and cassettes featuring some of the best music from around the world.

Click here for a list of Putumayo's offerings, to hear more samples, or to buy.

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