Erica Azim is one of the leading western authorities on and practitioners of Zimbabwean mbira music. She is based in Berkeley, California, and makes frequent trips to Zimbabwe to record music, as well as visits around the US to teach mbira, particularly to areas in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado, where there are large communities of practitioners of Zimbabwean music. Azim has studied the performance of the mbira extensively in Zimbabwe, and is now known as a gwenyambira, a musician qualified to play at traditional religious ceremonies. Teachers she has studied with in Zimbabwe include well-known performers such as Ambuya Beauler Dyoko, Cosmas Magaya, Mondrek Muchena, Irene Chigamba, Tute Chigamba, Chris Mhlanga, Newton Gwara, Forward Kwenda, Luken Pasipamire, as well as Raymond, Fradreck, and Fungai Mujuru. Azim has also studied under Ephat Mujuru and Dumisani Maraire, the first Zimbabweans to bring mbira music to the west.
Azim is also the founder of Mbira.org, a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and sustaining Zimbabwean music, and to teaching and distributing this music more broadly. Azim directs events such as the mbirathon fundraiser, mbira camps that frequently feature guest teachers from Zimbabwe, and regular mbira workshops at her Berkeley location.
Azim is featured on numerous recordings of mbira music, including her own titles, as well as a guest on recordings by Forward Kwenda.
Other notable western ethnomusicologists associated with mbira music are Paul Berliner, Hugh Tracey, and Andrew Tracey.