February is Black History Month, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about the Mbira.

What’s an Mbira? It’s an old African instrument that most of us know as the Kalimba.


This instrument is very ancient in origin, going back thousands of years. It is a sacred instrument in the Shona religion, and it is the national instrument of Zimbabwe.

My wife Pat and I both had Kalimba’s in the early 90’s. We had a lot of fun playing around with them but never got the chance to use one on a session. Here’s a picture similar to the ones we owned:


One of the last songs that I wrote for the CD Authentic uses this instrument’s sound. I had originally used the Clavinet for those parts, but it reminded me of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’, and since I wasn’t trying to imitate that I went for a different sound.

Listen for it here in the front of this song ‘Just Like’:

I love the clarity of this instrument’s sound. The duel between the three Mbira’s and the contrast between these acoustic instruments and the electric bass on this track create an interesting play.

See if you can discover any other unique sounds on Authentic – you can find it here:

Spencer-Fields Records

See ya!