Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Song for Nomsa

Louis Mhlanga
Louis MhlangaThis post is probably illegal and I'm not even sure if the embedded music will play on all browsers. So, firstly, let me apologise in advance should you have trouble playing the embedded track or if it makes this page very slow to load. If anyone more experienced in blogging has advice on embedding music, I'll be most grateful.

Secondly, to those observing copyright issues, let me just say that it's just one track from an artist who is not that widely known and that this is a bit of free advertising that should be gratefully received - it's not every day that someone relatively unknown is given such a public platform as this. I'm sure Mhlanga will be eternally grateful for this exposure!

While raiding G's music collection over the weekend, I came across 'Song for Nomsa' by Louis Mhlanga (*). I've listened to a lot of Mhlanga's stuff before but not heard this CD which also features Dutch bassist Erik Van Der Westen. I couldn't stop listening to it so G went out and bought me a copy.

I've always thought of Mhlanga as a South African musician but it seems that he's originally Zimbabwean. The Zimbabwe Music Guide certainly claims him as a son of Zimbabwe! He grew up there (some websites say he was born in South Africa), taught himself the guitar at 10 and, from the seventies, fronted a lot of bands in Zimbabwe before heading off to South Africa to further his career. More recently, he spent a year in the Netherlands as the musician-in-residence at the Royal Dutch Conservatory of Music where he taught African guitar.

Song for Nomsa
You can read more about him here where they have this to say about 'Song for Nomsa':

In 1998 he went to Europe to give workshops at several Conservatories to teach his Mbira transferred material to students. There he met Double bassist Eric van der Westen with whom he recorded in 1999 a beautiful duo album (dedicated to his daughter) "Song for Nomsa". It was the first time that Louis could be heard in such a spacious acoustic setting. From that album the song "Zvinoshamisa" was selected as the soundtrack of a video clip produced by Education International and NOVIB for their 'Global Campaign Against Child Labor and The Right for All Children to Education'. Through this connection with the Netherlands, Louis came across less common ground when he started to play in a jazz setting with the famous Dutch jazz group The Paul van Kemenade Quintet. He recorded the album "Zvinoshamisa" with them (containing the title song of course) and toured The Netherlands in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Louis' outstanding feel and touch have taken him all over the world. He has performed at major festivals like: The Sunsplash in Austria, Music Metisses in France, Rudelstadt in Germany, Masa in Ivory Coast, Dranouter in Belgium, Tribute concert for Lady Di in England, Stranger than Paranoia and Mundial in The Netherlands.

Not everyone will like this type of music but I hope that this clip of 'Zvinoshamisa' will make you want to hear more. The album can be bought online at various places including here.

Interestingly, the whole album is sung in Sotho whereas Mhlanga, coming from Harare in Zimbabwe, would've grown up with Shona as his home tongue. I just wish I knew what the lyrics are about.

(*) for those of you not used to South African names, Mhlanga is pronounced 'Im-sh-lung-ah'


Blogger Ebbsson said...

Thanks so much for this info! It was great reading about this and to be able to listen to this song. I'll tell you why:

First of all it was really good reading, well written, and very interesting subject. I hope this will help Mhlanga to be more known.

Second of all, why I got here:
One night I was zapping through channels at the TV and I ended up seeing the end of a program about the effects in Africa from the missionaries in history, and the last song played in the reportage was so good, I couldn't think of not being able to ever hear it again. Sadly the tv-producers/journalists didn't care about to tell which songs they were playing in the program (!!!) and I couldn't tell what it was from the lyrics, exactly... So, I e-mailed the TV-company and asked. It was weeks ago.

Today I got an answer from some confused person hired at the company, who didn't at all know about this TV-program or this music. He had tried to get in touch with the journalist of the program, but this person were traveling "some where in Africa". He suggested some songs he thought it could be and some info about what record it could be on, and I started go through the net. First I had the wrong song title and the song I found wasn't at all the same what I was looking for. But then I found a detail in the e-mail, 'Zvinoshamisa', and I started searching for that. I finally found your blog and here it was! I'm so incredibly happy for this, and to be able to listen to the song to make sure that it was the one I heard in the program. It is! Thank you!

I will buy this record as soon as I can, so for sure at least one fan more is gained by adding this song to the internet like this. I hope there are more potential fans out there...

Thank you!

1:40 pm  

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