Chris Mhlanga

The first time Chris heard an mbira performance was in 1960 at the age of 24. The young Chris received strong inspiration from the tone of the mbira and soon tried making one himself. At the time, Chris was not aspiring to become a professional mbira artist, but everyone who played his mbira was impressed by the high quality and craftsmanship and Chris started receiving many requests. Along with the requests for his mbira, Chris also soon began receiving requests to perform at special ceremonies, and from there his career as an artist took off. Until the 1970's, however, Chris's main occupation was working with agriculture in his hometown.

After Zimbabwe gained its independence in the year 1980, more and more foreigners and tourists started coming in and interest in mbira grew. Chris's main source of income gradually became making, teaching and performing mbira and soon started to dedicate himself full time to the instrument. He began teaching people from countries such as England, United States, Germany, Holland, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, South Africa and others. People from all over the world wanted to learn mbira from Chris.

In 1994, Chris was asked to perform in England. During his five month stay he held lessons, workshops and lectures and also went on a tour of Scotland. The following year he traveled to the United States, where in Tenesse he performed with the likes of Richard Selman and gave lectures for six months as part of a folk music program at the University of Illinois. He also traveled around other schools in the area where he gave lectures and demonstrations, making a big effort to reach out to children and to get them interested in mbira music. It can be said that from Chis's efforts, interest in mbira and Shona culture increased dramatically. In 2001 Chris was invited back to the University of Illinois once again to teach once again.

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