World, US
Artist / Band / Musician
Afro-beat / Pop / Jam Band

Chris Berry and Panjea with Michael Kang and special guest, Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon "Graceland") and Giovani Hidalgo

Panjea is happy to say that the new album, "'Find a Way" is complete, and it is possibly the best album yet!! Look for it in the Spring of 2010!

"Carrying the torch for tomorrow" - Harry Belafonte


"He possesses a unique and reedy voice like Sting, a stage presence like

James Brown, and lyrical content reminiscent of Bob Marley." - New York


"This sh-t is f-ckin crazy!" - Eminem

"Bombastic Beats, Phat Brass and Revolutionary lyrics. If you don't dance

you will." - L.A. Times

Jazz drum giant Max Roach, calls them "totally exhilarating."

African sensation Youssou N'Dour - "Watch out for them."

And legendary entertainer Harry Belafonte says "(They're) carrying the torch for tomorrow."

"Chris Berry picked up where Paul Simon left off," says Michael Kang,

violinist and mandolin-player for The String Cheese Incident. "Chris' music

glides across all racial and ethnic lines making everyone feel at home

within the music. The conscious lyrics are a road map for humanity and

Chris is one of the few people able to carry this message to a wide


Berry's story "sounds like it was written by a Hollywood script writer"

(Steve Leggett, All Music Guide). Maybe that is because it is hard to

believe that a California White boy moved to Africa, became a spirit caller,

and went on to sell over a million records in Southern Africa, where he

still sells out stadiums. Now he is positioned to do the same in America.

After over a decade living in Africa, Berry has now settled back in America

following the edict given to him by African ancestor spirits to make a

difference here, launching a slew of new activities to convey his message of

justice and peace. His renewed American mission launches when Chris Berry

and his band Panjea release Dancemakers, on Wrasse Records on April 18,

2006. Panjea's Inclusion of String Cheese's Michael Kang for new

collaborations, has created quite a buzz in the World Music and Jamband

scene fusing the two genres and exposing hundreds of thousands of listeners

to a fresh new sound. They have recorded a new album "Find A Way" possibly their best and it will be released late 2009!!

Berry's fascination of Zimbabwean mbira (thumb piano) music eventually lured

him to Harare, where he settled and studied under legendary mbira master

Monderek Muchena for ten years. During that time, Berry put together his

band Panjea, whose pioneering blend of indigenous music, dance hall, and

hip-hop earned platinum album sales throughout Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and


While studying in Zimbabwe, Berry became one of the first Westerners to be

accepted among the elder mbira masters as one of their own. "I played for a

lot of ceremonies where people would become possessed," said Berry. "Some of the old ancestors who came back spoke to me through these people: 'What are you doing here? There are lots of misguided people, lost and confused

people, in your country. They're killing each other there. It's time for you

to take what you've learned and bring it to your own country because they

need it more than we need it here. That's your job. You're the bridge maker.'"

And so back on his native soil we find him today, preaching an uplifting

transcontinental message of hope to contagious, dance beats based in the

Zimbabwean mbira and sacred Congolese ngoma drum rhythms. Berry has been deemed a master of both mbira and ngoma drum, earning the title of

gwenyambira ("one whose music calls the spirits"), a distinction reserved

only for those who have achieved the highest fusion of the technical and the

magical in music from the elder with whom he lived and studied during his

years abroad.

Michael Kang grew up as a true world citizen. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Michael or Hyung Joon (his given Korean name) criss crossed the globe, living in 6 different countries before settling into life in the United States. Arriving in the bay area in his teens, Michael was drawn to the sounds of San Francisco through the musical offerings of bands such as the Grateful Dead and Santana. During this time, Michael was also developing his skills as a violinist, an instrument he had picked up along the way. As a member of the Tamalpais High Orchestra and various youth orchestras in Marin County, Kang got his first taste of performing in large ensembles.

Eventually, Michael ended up at UC Berkeley where his love for outdoor activities like skiing and climbing fueled his appetite for environmental studies. His love for wide open spaces also led to numerous visits to Alaska, where Michael studied natural history and also rekindled his interest in the fiddle and mandolin. Figuring it was a great way to get into bars without a valid id, Michael got his first taste of playing club gigs with local musicians.

Playing music by night and skiing during the day was the norm when Kang moved to Colorado in 1992. An epic winter of powder ensued as well as the first apres ski gigs with his eventual musical compadres, The String Cheese Incident. Sixteen years and some 1500 shows later, Michael Kang and SCI has developed a distinct niche for themselves in the music industry. Having performed at many of the most renowned venues and festivals worldwide, Kang has become one of the few musicians to have cultivated his sound using an electric octave mandolin and violin as SCI developed their eclectic blend of bluegrass, rock, jazz, african and latin world fusion.

A chance meeting with Chris Berry in an airport in 2005 eventually led to subsequent journeys to Africa to get a first hand taste of African musical traditions. Having travelled and performed with Chris in South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali and Senegal, the two developed an intimate musical rapport that has led to Michael becoming a member of Panjea in 2007.

Michael has most recently expanded his horizons into global environmental advocacy through his work with Our Future Now, a group he co-founded in 2006. Seeing that the world's greatest challenges also provide room for equally grand solutions, Michael has dedicated himself to being a part of the solution whether it be through music, community development or environmental advocacy.

Panjea includes Chris Berry, Michael Kang of the String Cheese Incident, Danny Sears,

Patrice Blanchard, Zivanai Masango, Abu.

Berry and Panjea bring it all home to America with their high-energy mix.

But the root is Africa: "Africa is the source for almost all the popular

music of the world," Berry insists. "You can hear it in blues, rock & roll,

funk, hip-hop, and jazz. I've just found a more direct line to the source. I've

got the medicine, and it's pure and strong."

Panjea has grown from a band to a full-fledged non-profit institution: the

Panjea Foundation for Cultural Education. "Panjea believes that through the

sharing of ideas and open cultural exchanges the world can once again become

a new kind of "Pangaea", united not by its physically joined continents but

by its people." Berry, along with his family, and band all join in the

foundation's activities, which include cultural tours to Africa, drum and

dance classes, camps and workshops, and special performances, including an

appearance at the 2000 Olympics.

Jamie Soja

Soja Music Productions

(Phone) (510) 710-0527

(Fax) (214)-889-3570


Chris Berry & Panjea with Michael Kang (String Cheese Incident)

CB 3 (the Chris Berry Trio) Featuring Special Guests

To Book


please contact:

Email: Ira Sweetwine


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