One of the first to blend Earth, Wind & Fire-like funk and R&B with the traditional dance rhythms of Zimbabwe, Louis Mhlanga continues to be one of Africa's most in-demand session musicians. His melodic guitar plucking has been featured on albums by such African musicians as King Sunny Ade, Hugh Masakela, Ray Phiri, Busi Mhlongo, Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, Caiphus Semenya, Letta Mbuli, Vusi Mahlasala, and the Soweto String Quartet. During a brief period in the mid-'80s when he temporarily resided in London, Mhlanga worked with Paul Weller and Afro-Caribbean artists including Dennis Brown and Julian Bahula. Recent collaborators include jazz-pop vocalist Al Jarreau and steel pan player Andy Narrell. Accepting an invitation to work at King Sunny Ade's recording studio in Lagos, Mhlanga learned the craft of record producing. Among the many albums that he's overseen are several by Thomas Mapfumo.
In addition to performing with his band, Musik Ye Africa, featuring drummer Jethro Shasha and bassist Jimi Indi, Mhlanga has increasingly worked with Vusi Mahlasala, a Dylanesque singer/songwriter that he met while working on a show, The Devil and the Saint, with poet Lesego Rampolokeng. Their first album together, Crush the Corn, released in 1997, was followed by Live at the Bassline, recorded during a concert in Johannesburg in 1999. Mhlanga has based his operations in South Africa since the late 1980s. He serves as administrative manager of the Ethnomusicology Trust. ~ Craig Harris