In ancient Africa there were dozens or even hundreds of great kalimba innovators, all lost to the dust of time. These ancestors we must honor, explicitly or implicitly, every time we pick up a kalimba.
Two people of the modern era who have done the most to move the kalimba forward are Hugh Tracey and Maurice White.
Hugh Tracey studied traditional African instruments extensively, and he also made the first commercial kalimbas to be marketed globally, starting in the 1950s. On this website, his name is well known.
Maurice White, leader of the pop and R&B band "Earth, Wind & Fire" is the world's first kalimba star. He played the Hugh Tracey kalimba, but with a twist.