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Genres

Chimurenga

Pioneered by Thomas Mapfumo, chimurenga was the popular music of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. The music, which finds its roots in Shona tradition, relies heavily on the mbira for inspiration. Rhythms and melodies from the traditional mbira are transcribed for guitar and are usually mixed with a political or moral message. The mbira is present in many songs as well. Somewhat danceable, chimurenga sometimes has a trance-inducing quality to it.

Artists include Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited and Jonah Sithole. Robson Banda & the New Black Eagles has a less dark feel than the chimurenga of Mapfumo.

 

Jit (jiti, jit-jive)

Sometimes known as the Harare beat, jit is the highly danceable music Zimbabwe is best known for. Jit gained international exposure during the 1980s through theBhundu Boys and The Four Brothers, and is characterized by fast guitar riffs and rapid-fire drumming. A true melting pot, the popular sound is influenced by Tanzanian guitar, said to be brought back by returning soldiers, the bass of Congolese rhumba, and the mbira-guitar of chimurenga. Others, such as the Chazezesa Challengers, mix a blend of jit and sungura.

Artists include the Bhundu Boys, The Four Brothers, and the Chazezesa Challengers.

 

Rhumba (rhumbira, zimrhumba)

Rhumbira, as it is affectionately known by Afropop enthousiasts, finds its roots in the Congo. As Congolese bands based their efforts in Harare in the 70s and 80s, their heavy bass and infectious and intricate guitar licks eventually found their way into Zimbabwean music. As with most foreign music, the genre was “Zimbabweanized” as Shona lyrics and mbira-rythms (hence the moniker rhumbira) were added to complete the highly danceable sound. Rhumba hits its heyday in the 1980s, and although its popularity is in decline it remains a powerful force in Zimbabwean music both at home and abroad.

Artists include Jonah Moyo & Devera Ngwena, the Marxist Brothers, Simon Chimbetu, and Leonard Zhakata.

 

Sungura

An offshoot of Zimbabwean rhumba and jit, sungura is an exptremely popular genre in Zimbabwe. Still heavily guitar-based, songs generally feature a reaggae feel, as well as more prominent vocal lines as the rapid-fire guitar of other styles takes a backseat. The genre hit its peak in the mid-1990s and is still going strong today despite the prominent rise of R&B in Africa.

Artists include John Chibadura, Leonard Dembo, Alick Macheso, and the Sungura Boys.

 

Soukous

Another Congolese import from the touring bands of the 1970s. Compared to jit and rhumba, soukous is much less common in Zimbabwe despite its appealing international status. Zimbabwean soukous artists tend to be of Congolese origin.

Artists include the Real Sounds of Africa.

 

Reggae

Reggae maintains a Zimbabwean following, but despite its popularity abroad few native artists have found much success.

Artists include the Pied Pipers.

Primer

Zimbabwean Music Primer

New to Zimbabwean music? Don’t know where to start?

Start here!

The Zimbabwe Music Guide provides insight into the world of Zim electric pop. But what else do Zimbos listen to?

The Zimbabwean Music Primer has been developed to provide a starting point for new listeners. Although this site provides information on many different artists, the Zimbabwean music scene is very complex and diverse.

The primer will introduce new listeners to the traditional sounds of Zimbabwe’s Shona people – the foundations of Zim contemporary guitar pop. Traditional artists will be introduced, along with a quick description of how the music of this site came into being. A short synopsis of other contemporary genres is included as well.

Each page provides a multitude of outside links for more indepth information on the artists and styles presented.

Records….

Have any Zim records you’d like to sell? Whether LP, cassette, or CD, I might be interested.

I am interested in recordings from Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena, Paul Mpofu, John Chibadura, Paul Matavire, James Chimombe, Mapfumo…more or less any of the artists profile on this site, or anything sounding like them.

If you have anything you’d like to sell, please email me, and I’ll get back to you about whether I’m interested in those specific titles or not.

Marc: zim@embargo.ca

Thanks!

About

Welcome to the Zimbabwean Music Guide

As an avid fan of the chimurenga, jit, and sungura styles which emerged from Zimbabwe in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, I have endlessly searched the internet for information and links. Unfortunately information was hard to come by, and what I had found was sprinkled across various sites. Growing sick of spending hours, even days in search of the info and music I wanted, the Zimbabwe Music Guide arose. It has been created with the intention of providing quick and easy access to Zimbabwean band and album information, as well as providing a one-stop purchasing resource. And has it ever grown from there!

Website Breakdown

– the start page which features news initial welcome
About
– the page you’re viewing now
– new to Zimbabwean music? Don’t know where to start? Start here.
– profiles of the main genres of Zimbabwe’s guitar music
– info, clips, and track listings from the various compilations of Zimbabwean music
– bios, photos, discographies, track lists, and music clips pertaining to Zimbabwean musicians
– amateur guitar transcriptions of pieces of Zimbabwean songs
– info on the companies which release music from Zimbabwe
– background info on Zimbabwean music sources
– post your Zim Music buying/selling desires on the messageboard
– search the contents of the Zimbabwe Music Guide
– the sites and books that were used to compile these pages, including image credits
– links to other interesting Zimbabwean music sites
– questions, comments, suggestions, contributions? email me, Marc, at zim@embargo.ca

Please note that I do not live in Zimbabwe and am in no way an expert on Zimbabwean music. If something looks wrong, it probably is – email me. Also note that the website is constantly under construction so things will be changing all the time. Feel free to drop me a line if you’re looking for a specific title or information on a band. I’ll try to help you to the best of my ability.

Enjoy! I hope this site is useful!