"Thomas Mapfumo, the musical Lion of Zimbabwe, has been fortunate in finding Banning Eyre, a worthy Boswell to his Johnson."
(Peter Godwin, author of The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe
"Banning Eyre has done it again. Lion Songs is not just a fascinating biography of an underappreciated African music icon. It testifies to the way music can unlock the secrets of history, society, and the human spirit. Zimbabwe’s story is by turns inspiring and heartbreaking. Mapfumo’s life and art, so elegantly told here, lets us both feel and understand it as never before."
“A deep, detailed biography of a complex African musician and the homeland that has shaped his artistry. . . . An essential book for those who love the artist's music and want to know more. . . .”
“What emerges from Eyre’s account is a multi-faceted look at one musician’s life, and the effects that it had on both the people around him and the society of which he was a part. . . . There’s an evenness of tone here, and it helps bring together the many aspects of Mapfumo’s life into one cohesive narrative. And, as an added bonus, it may well introduce readers to music that remains vital decades after it was first recorded.”
(Tobias Carroll Biographile
“[Eyre] has meticulously researched Mapfumo’s story and the musicians who have played with him in Blacks Unlimited, and he tells their tale with impressive attention to detail. … All this makes Lion Songs an essential resource for anyone interested in Mapfumo and Zimbabwean music.”
(Nigel Williamson Songlines
“[A] a singularly insightful biography. . . .”
(Andrew Gilbert Berkeleyside
“For fans of African music, the album is a must-have. For those interested in the role of art in self-determination and the intricate and convoluted history of oppression and colonialism and the fraught aftermath of self-rule, the book is a must-read.”
(Jay Mazza The Vinyl District
"The novelistic text has an appropriately hefty level of historical context, and the attention to detail means that Eyre never gives the tale less than it deserves, ultimately enlightening the reader about the evolution of an entire nation, as well as its most famous musical son. The gripping read is thus highly recommended."
(David Katz Mojo
"An essential book for those who love the artiste's music and want to know more. . . ."
(Fred Zindi The Herald (Zimbabwe)
"[B]ecause Thomas Mapfumo is such an important subject, and because Eyre has spent decades around him, the legacy outweighs the failures. Mapfumo has created a huge body of meaningful work and Eyre has stuck it out—an independent scholar on a university press non-advance—to get his story. Graceful sentences, acute observation, heroic amounts of research, self-consciousness about subject position and other contextual issues, a working musician’s aesthetic appreciation—it’s all here, and nobody else could have done it."
(Eric Weisbard Journal of Popular Music Studies
"Eyre affirms Mapfumo’s enduring stature in the canon of Zimbabwean music. Lion Songs is a fascinating biography not just for its closeup portrayal of Mapfumo, but also its masterly commentary on Zimbabwe’s underrated music industry."
(Stanley Mushava The Herald (Zimbabwe)
"[A]n intensely detailed and lucid work. ...Eyre is a musicologist, so when he explains the musical alchemy that went into creating Mapfumo's mbira-inspired chimurenga (revolutionary struggle) music, his descriptions are illuminating and technical. ... He also understands that the significance of his subject - a fixture in Zimbabwe's music and sociopolitical fabric for at least five decades - transcends the music he made."
(Kwanele Sosibo The Namibian