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Thomas Mapfumo and his band The Blacks Unlimited :: with special guest author Banning Eyre and the ambassador of Chicago Blues Billy Branch

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Thomas Mapfumo and his band The Blacks Unlimited :: with special guest author Banning Eyre and the ambassador of Chicago Blues Billy Branch
Saturday, September 12, 2015 8:00 PM to Sunday, September 13, 2015 1:30 AM
Rosa's Lounge, Chicago, IL
  • 21 & over
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Show Details
  • Ticket Price: $25.00 - $35.00
  • Door Time: 7:00 PM
  • Restrictions: 21 & over
Thomas Mapfumo: Thomas Tafirenyika “Mukanya” Mapfumo was born in Marondera, Zimbabwe in 1945. His early childhood moments, saw him tapping the knack and interest for traditional music and instruments (ngoma, hosho and mbira) from his grandparents who were avid musicians in the village. Unbeknown to him, that early-stage set-up underlined with innocence would describe his future music career and earn him global fame. By the age of ten he lived in Mbare with his parents who worked in the city. At the time, Mbare was a black ghetto township; also a hub of protest movements against the segregationist colonial regime. That anarchic neighborhood exposed young Thomas to some early brushes with police brutality against restless freedom protesters. It was also in Mbare that Mapfumo became hooked to the stereo, finding a favorite pastime as he listened to diverse international music from famous stars of the day. That concentrated limelight would eventually inspire him to plot for a music career at that tender age.
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Banning Eyre:
Lion Songs: Thomas Mapfumo and the Music That Made Zimbabwe  by Banning Eyre (Author)

Like Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, singer, composer, and bandleader Thomas Mapfumo and his music came to represent his native country's anticolonial struggle and cultural identity. Mapfumo was born in 1945 in what was then the British colony of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The trajectory of his career—from early performances of rock 'n' roll tunes to later creating a new genre based on traditional Zimbabwean music, including the sacred mbira, and African and Western pop—is a metaphor for Zimbabwe's evolution from colony to independent nation. Lion Songs is an authoritative biography of Mapfumo that narrates the life and career of this creative, complex, and iconic figure.
Banning Eyre ties the arc of Mapfumo's career to the history of Zimbabwe. The genre Mapfumo created in the 1970s called chimurenga, or "struggle" music, challenged the Rhodesian government—which banned his music and jailed him—and became important to Zimbabwe achieving independence in 1980. In the 1980s and 1990s Mapfumo's international profile grew along with his opposition to Robert Mugabe's dictatorship. Mugabe had been a hero of the revolution, but Mapfumo’s criticism of his regime led authorities and loyalists to turn on the singer with threats and intimidation. Beginning in 2000, Mapfumo and key band and family members left Zimbabwe. Many of them, including Mapfumo, now reside in Eugene, Oregon.
A labor of love, Lion Songs is the product of a twenty-five-year friendship and professional relationship between Eyre and Mapfumo that demonstrates Mapfumo's musical and political importance to his nation, its freedom struggle, and its culture.
Billy Branch: Billy Branch has followed a very non-traditional path to the blues. Unlike many blues artists, he isn't from the South. Billy was born in Chicago in 1951 and was raised in Los Angeles. He first picked up a harmonica at the age of ten and immediately began to play simple tunes. Billy returned to Chicago in the summer of '69 and graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in political science. It was during these years that he was introduced to the Blues. He soon became immersed in the local blues scene. He spent a great deal of time at legendary blues clubs such as: Queen Bee's and Theresa's Lounge; he learned from such stalwart harmonica players like: Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, Junior Wells and Carey Bell.