Have Fun Playing These 51 Easy Kalimba Songs

The kalimba is a wooden instrument with metal tines that you play by plucking. It originated in Africa and is remarkably easy to play.

So, if you’re ever looking for a unique but simple instrument to learn, the kalimba might be for you! These easy kalimba songs for beginners are a great place to start, offering a variety of emotions and genres to help you find your niche. From pop to rock songs, there’s sure to be something you’ll like.


You Are My Sunshine – Jimmie Davis

This timeless tune is relaxing and heartfelt. It feels like sunshine in song form with warm vocals and optimistic instrumentation. The lyrics are a bit on the mournful side, though, sung by a man who has lost his “sunshine.” He begs this person not to leave him, saying, “please don’t take my sunshine away.”

Related: Hear this song on our list of the best 1940s songs.

Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis Presley

Perhaps one of the most iconic love songs of all time, you’ll hear this tune in tons of weddings and romantic movie montages. The beauty is in its simplicity. Gorgeous melodies backed by acoustic instruments and harmonies spotlight how this connection is so strong that you just can’t help falling in love.

Related: Keep it classic with the best oldies love songs.

The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel

The struggle with mental health and loneliness is a pervasive problem for many of us and can be exhausting. This song is sung from the perspective of someone welcoming the darkness back into their lives. Despite the pain, it is at least comfortable. He also talks about his lack of connection with others, lamenting over the tendency we all have to keep our thoughts private—”no one dared disturb the sound of silence.”

Related: Turn up the volume for these songs with silence in the title.

Fly Me to the Moon – Frank Sinatra

One of Frank Sinatra’s most popular songs, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ is a sweet and smooth song with tons of jazzy ear candy. The love that Sinatra is experiencing is transcendental, and he feels like he is floating through space. He could sing about this love forever, which would never capture the full breadth of his feelings, so he says, “fill my heart with song and let me sing forevermore.”

Related: If you liked this song, you’ll love these beautiful jazz songs.

Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day

This emotional song was written about the death of Billie Joe Armstrong’s father, who died on the first of September. The grief is poignant, and the rawness of the lyrics is moving. He doesn’t want to face a world where his father doesn’t exist and wishes he could sleep away the pain.

Related: Listen to more songs with September in the title.

Yesterday – The Beatles

This nostalgic track wonderfully captures how the longing for the better times of yesterday can be so consuming. The narrator speaks about a love that has ended—the woman left him behind. He yearns for the times they used to have together, saying that now “there’s a shadow hanging over” him and his loneliness.

I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony) – The New Seekers

If you’re ever feeling down, this uplifting tune can light some positivity in your heart. It’s all about finding community throughout the world, and lines like “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” show The New Seeker’s ambitious and inspiring goal. Fun Fact: a lot of this song’s popularity stemmed from its use in a Coke commercial, with the line originally being “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.”

Heal the World – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson advocates for compassion and loving your neighbor in this passionate track. The song opens with a child speaking about making the world a better place, which really hits you in your heart. Jackson has a simple yet spirited request for us all: “heal the world, make it a better place.”

Related: Feel at ease with our peace songs list.

Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

‘Hallelujah’ is known for its gorgeous, if somewhat confusing, lyrics. With many religious references, it seems like the love Leonard Cohen is singing about is one he feels he must worship. The choir-like vocals in the chorus add to this effect, and Cohen’s gravelly and vulnerable vocals make us feel like we’re getting a peek at his innermost thoughts. Although the lyrics are difficult, it’s an easy song for the kalimba.

Related: Check out more popular songs in the key of C.

You’re Still the One – Shania Twain

This lovely song is about a strong relationship that overcame all odds. Despite external obstacles and people saying they wouldn’t make it, Shania Twain stuck with her gut, and now her love couldn’t be better. Even after all their past hardships, Twain can tell her partner, “you’re still the one I want for life.”

Related: Celebrate your partner with these anniversary love songs.

Careless Whisper – George Michael

‘Careless Whisper’ opens with one of the most iconic saxophone solos of all time, setting the mood for a dramatic night. It sounds like George Michael has cheated on his partner, and “the careless whispers of a good friend” have revealed his infidelity to the other person. The song is filled with Michael’s regret for his actions, and he mourns the love by saying, “I’m never gonna dance again the way I danced with you.”

Related: Enjoy the best songs with sax.

Zombie – The Cranberries

An intense and staticky guitar opens this haunting song, making way for the fervent anti-military stance the song seems to take. The Cranberries speak about the militant groups that follow even the most immoral orders, calling them “zombies” for being unable to think for themselves. It’s an unapologetic song filled with anger and will certainly spark a fire in all those who listen.

Related: You’ll love our Irish songs playlist.

Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

Relaxed ukulele strumming and the honey vocals of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole make this an incredibly beautiful song. The track was written for The Wizard of Oz, and the longing described in the song is similar to that of Dorothy’s longing in the movie. Lines like “birds fly over the rainbow, why then, oh, why can’t I?” capture that feeling of wanting to find somewhere more peaceful but feeling like you’re stuck where you are.

Related: This song features on our list of the best lullabies.

What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

With Louis Armstrong’s raspy vocals and the orchestral arrangement, ‘What a Wonderful World’ is a comforting song full of hope. Armstrong appreciates the beauty of the small details in the world with this track, singing about the blues of the sky and the colors of the rainbow. Even though life isn’t perfect, sometimes the simplest things remind you: “what a wonderful world.”

Related: Appreciate the earth with this nature songs list.

In the End – Linkin Park

This song captures a certain brand of hopelessness—the feeling that nothing matters. The narrator seems to be feeling this way because of a failed relationship, singing, “I’ve put my trust in you, pushed as far as I can go.” The intense instrumentation and wailing feedback heighten the desperate emotions of the track.

Happy Birthday to You – Patty Hill

Not many people know this song, but it’d be great to try at a birthday party. Haha! This classic birthday tune has been around for ages, and no birthday is complete without it. The song was originally a children’s song with different lyrics (“good morning to you”) but morphed into the tune we all know after being used in various musicals.

Related: Celebrate your big day with these fun birthday songs.

Imagine – John Lennon

Sometimes the complexities and tensions in our society can feel overwhelming. It seems impossible that everyone can coexist peacefully, no matter how badly everyone seems to want it. John Lennon describes a haven of a world, encouraging us to “imagine all the people livin’ life in peace” despite how insurmountable it seems.

Related: Here are the best songs that are easy to sing.

(Everything I Do) I Do It for You – Bryan Adams

This song was written for the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but it’s easily a great song. Bryan Adams’ impassioned vocals display his love for the song’s muse. He would do anything for this person, saying, “there’s no love like your love.”

Related: You’ll swoon over these 90s love ballads.

Toss a Coin to Your Witcher – Giona Ostinelli and Sonya Belousova

‘Toss a Coin to Your Witcher’ was written for the Netflix show The Witcher, but it quickly became a hit among fans of the show due to its folksy twang and addictive melodies. The song works as an introduction to a couple of characters of the show, in which they encourage the villagers to treat them with fairness.

I Want to Break Free – Queen

This song is a catchy anthem about wanting to escape the confines of your life. Whether you feel there are external constraints on you or if it’s yourself that is holding you back, crying out, “I want to break free,” is the first step towards overcoming that feeling. Freddie Mercury’s powerful vocals light a fire in you that inspires you to break free.

Related: Seeking freedom? Here are some breaking free songs.

With or Without You – U2

The only thing we know for sure about love is that it is complicated! This track is about one of those complicated relationships. Disorienting synth adds to the confusion that the narrator is feeling. He says, “I can’t live with or without you.” He knows this love is not sustainable, but he can’t imagine a life without it. It’s a crossroads, indeed.

Related: This song is on our list of campfire guitar songs.

My Heart Will Go On – Celine Dion

‘My Heart Will Go On’ was written as the theme song for the 1997 film Titanic, which told the devastating story of a love torn apart by a shipwreck. The song is from the perspective of the main character Rose reminiscing about her lost love Jack, promising to hold their memories forever. She says, “you are safe in my heart,” because her love for him will never die.

Related: This is one of the 35 best love songs of all time.

I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

This love song is sweet and simple, with intimate vocals and acoustic instrumentation setting the sunny scene. Jason Mraz is ready to welcome love into his life, regardless of the potential pain it could bring. He’s in love, and that’s all that matters: “I won’t hesitate no more. It cannot wait. I’m yours.”

Moon River – Andy Williams

Originally written for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ‘Moon River’ is a smooth ballad filled with love. The swings sway back and forth, and the choir’s vocals give the song a retro feel. It feels like the song is preparing you for a beautiful journey, especially with lines like “two drifters, off to see the world.”

Related: Drift over to our playlist of water themed songs.

Take on Me – A-ha

An iconic keys riff carries this song, but every element is just so satisfying. Those quick drum crashes, the unexpected high notes, and the groovy bass guarantee that you will have a good time listening to this song. The narrator shoots his shot with someone he likes, asking them to give him a chance: “take me on!”

Related: Entertain the kiddos with these songs appropriate for school.

Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses

The long, now-famous guitar solo introducing this song immediately sets the bar for a high-energy track. Guns N’ Roses sing about a girl with childlike innocence, which brings up nostalgic memories of youth. It feels safe with this woman, which we see in lines like “her hair reminds me of a warm, safe place where as a child, I’d hide.”

Related: Sing along with these mens’ karaoke songs.

The Scientist – Coldplay

This classic Coldplay tune reminds everyone to make sure you prioritize the right things in life. The narrator of this song is a scientist who has dedicated his life to his work. But, when he finally looks up from his research, he finds that he has lost his love. The mournful melodies show how now, all the scientist is left with is regret.

Related: You’ll want to hear the best songs of 2000s.

Let It Be – The Beatles

Written by Paul McCartney, this Beatles song was inspired by the death of his mother, Mary. He sings about how he can still hear his mother’s advice when he’s having a hard time—their bond transcends her passing. And her advice is: “let it be.” Let go of what you can’t control, and know that answers are always on the horizon.

I’m Not the Only One – Sam Smith

Being cheated on is one of the most painful experiences, and everything from the suspicion to the confirmation of the infidelity hurts. Sam Smith sings about all of these emotions, finally confronting their lover with the knowledge of what is going on. Even though this other person tried to deny it, Smith knows the truth, singing, “when you call me baby, I know I’m not the only one.” Their powerful and devasted vocals add an extra layer of emotion to the track.

Related: Is someone unfaithful? Here are some songs for cheaters.

House of the Rising Sun – The Animals

Riveting guitar riffs, energetic organs, and suspenseful melodies make this an eerie song that almost sounds like a ghost story. It tells the story of a house in New Orleans, and though we don’t know exactly what this house is, it’s clear we don’t want to go there. The narrator warns us against going to the house, saying, “it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy,” including himself.

Related: Feel the Big Easy vibes on our list of songs about New Orleans.

Shape of You – Ed Sheeran

‘Shape of You’ is an earworm of a song, and its commercial success proved it. Ed Sheeran’s catchy vocals, coupled with the marimba riffs, create an irresistible rhythm. Sheeran sings about someone he’s starting to fall in love with, knowing that they are perfect for each other—”your love was handmade for somebody like me.”

Related: Listen to more popular hits on our list of pop songs.

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

A long instrumental intro sets the melancholy mood of this song about escapism through vices. The song was partly inspired by Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett’s struggle with LSD and schizophrenia. They knew Barrett could be so detached from reality that he would mistake “hot ashes for trees” and “hot air for a cool breeze.” They express how they wish he was still present with them on this track.

Related: Listen to these songs of love lost to remember the one you miss.

Someone You Loved – Lewis Capaldi

Lewis Capaldi’s raspy and powerful vocals can make any song sound heartbreaking, but this one really takes the cake. Capaldi is reeling from the unexpected end of a relationship, wondering what went wrong and how he will recover. He sings, “I let my guard down, and then you pulled the rug,” to show how blindsided he feels by this breakup.

Related: See this song on our regretting songs playlist.

True Colors – Phil Collins

‘True Colors’ is a sweet song about loving someone despite all of their “flaws.” We all have things we are insecure about, and the most beautiful kind of love is one where the other person sees those insecurities and embraces them. Phil Collins has found a love like this, saying, “I see your true colors, and that’s why I love you.”

Numb – Linkin Park

Other people’s expectations can be a heavy weight to hold, and the anger and desperation of this track perfectly sum up how overwhelming it can be. ‘Numb’ takes on the perspective of a child who can’t be who his parents want him to be, and he can’t take it anymore, saying, “I’m tired of being what you want me to be.”

Related: Get encouraged by the best keep going songs.

How Deep is Your Love – Bee Gees

Reassurance is a coveted thing in a relationship. No matter how secure you feel, sometimes the fear of not truly being loved by the person peeks through. The speaker in this tune isn’t completely confident in his love. Even though he’s committed, he says to the other person, “it’s me you need to show. How deep is your love?”

Related: Find this tune on the Saturday Night Fever song list.

Rolling in the Deep – Adele

Adele lets her anger shine in this enthralling song, her vocals steadily building until we reach those amazing belted notes in the chorus. Adele knows the couple could’ve had everything, but the guy ruined it. Adele warns him, “you’re gonna wish you never had met me,” because she isn’t going to hold back on her revenge.

Related: Find comfort in the best songs about being betrayed.

Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

The iconic bass riff carries the groove of this song, but steady drums and cool vocals add even more energy. The White Stripes sing about how frustrating it can be to see the public gossiping about them. Their private lives are on display because of their fame, and people take advantage of that.

Related: This song is one of the best baseball walk up songs.

Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver

This folksy ballad became an anthem for West Virginia, but John Denver hadn’t even been to West Virginia when he wrote the song! He was instead inspired by postcards from a friend who lived there. Still, this doesn’t detract from the song’s comforting melodies that really make you feel like you’re driving home.

Related: Don your cowboy hat and sing these good country songs for karaoke.

Bring Me to Life – Evanescence

The ominous tension of this song begins immediately with the spooky piano and dissonant strings. As the beat begins to kick in, the intensity grows until the chorus’s big hit. ‘Bring Me to Life’ is about finding someone who truly sees you and can wake you up from the brain fog of an unfulfilled life: “I’ve been living a lie. There’s nothing inside. Bring me to life.” Let this moody tune be one of the first rock songs you play on the kalimba!

Related: Feel the girl power in these female rock songs.

Dance Monkey – Tones and I

This catchy dance tune has a deeper meaning you might miss if you’re only listening to the groove. Tones and I sing about how being a musician can sometimes feel like being a monkey in the zoo; it feels like everything she does is a play to please her audience. She feels controlled by the people who listen to her as if they’re saying, “when you’re done, I’ll make you do it all again.”

Related: Raise your heart rate with these modern workout songs.

Nothing Else Matters – Metallica

This swaying song about being dedicated to someone was originally written about one of the band member’s girlfriends but eventually morphed into a song about Metallica fans. It becomes an extra special song when you listen to it through this lens, a true look into the love between musicians and their audiences.

Carry on Wayward Son – Kansas

Riveting guitar riffs and driving drums make this uptempo song one that is packed with energy. It’s an encouraging song with a comforting vibe, opening with the lines “carry on, my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done,” which are repeated several times in the song. Kansas wants to make sure you don’t give up on your journey because the end holds so much beauty.

Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People

‘Pumped Up Kicks’ has some pretty disturbing themes, taking on the perspective of a kid who is a social outcast plotting his violent revenge. Though the song never sees him actually acting on these urges, the dark internal monologue of the narrator is enough to have all of us running.

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

‘Stairway to Heaven’ might be the most popular rock song ever, with its lovely melodic riffs and soft flutes turning into heavy electric guitar and drums by the song’s end. The track talks about how greedy people tend to have an overly optimistic outlook on what awaits them in life. They believe they can buy a stairway to heaven rather than having to earn it.

Related: This is one of the most popular rock songs.

Wind of Change – Scorpions

‘Wind of Change’ is a beautifully transportive song that makes you feel like you’re being carried away on a peaceful breeze. The track was inspired by the fall of The Soviet Union, reflecting on how things can change so drastically. Scorpions hope for a better future “where the children of tomorrow dream away in the wind of change.”

Related: Blow over to our list of songs with wind.

Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton sings about a night out with his girlfriend in ‘Wonderful Tonight.’ In the first verse, he is waiting for her to get ready. They are at the party in the second, and in the third, they’re arriving home. Throughout it all, Clapton’s love for this woman is palpable. The relaxed organs and sliding guitars give the track its soothing feel.

Related: Check out our list of songs to slow dance to.

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

This song will make you feel special if you are a girl with brown eyes. Van Morrison showers his girl with love and compliments, admiring everything about her. The joyful melodies and uplifting instrumentation make this seem like a happy song until we find out that Morrison is no longer with his brown-eyed girl and is just remembering all the good times they had together.

Related: Enjoy the best songs with colors in the lyrics.

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Even though this track is an ode to the state of Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd is actually from Florida. That didn’t stop him from writing this iconic song with amazing guitar riffs, though! The lyrics contain a variety of topics, talking about the heavenly skies and warm days of Alabama as well as criticizing former governor George Wallace.

Related: Rock out with these southern rock songs.

Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers

The arpeggiating riffs and cinematic strings turn this emotional song into a waltzing ballad. The vocals are deep and full, giving even more passion to the song. ‘Unchained Melody’ was written for the 1955 film Unchained, and it shows the narrator desperately awaiting love, hoping that his “lonely rivers” will eventually lead to the open seas of true romance.

Related: You’ll find this song on our list of iconic 60s songs.

I Wanna Grow Old with You – Westlife

Just as the title suggests, this song is about yearning to be with someone for the rest of your life. Stripped-back piano and strings effortlessly heighten emotions, spotlighting the vulnerable lyrics. Lines like “I wanna die lying in your arms” show the speaker’s unwavering dedication to being with this person forever.

Related: Pop the question with these songs about proposing.

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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