A Cross-Cultural Celebration of Zimbabwean Music
There is a special spirituality within the music of Zimbabwe
that is creating a bridge between cultures.
The indigenous music and culture of Zimbabwe had been suppressed during the 1900’s, due to colonization. The area now known as Zimbabwe was then called Southern Rhodesia. In the early 1960’s, some liberal minded European colonists were seeing the demise of Zimbabwean music and wanted to do something to preserve it. A new program was implemented at the Rhodesian Academy of Music to train African musicians how to teach African and Western music in the schools and became the “Kwanongoma College of Music”. The directors wanted to pick an instrument that was not associated with any of the ethnic groups. After much discussion, the instrument chosen was the African marimba.
In the Fall of 1968, Abraham Dumisani (Dumi) Maraire, a former student of Kwanongoma, was hired by the University of Washington in Seattle as an Artist in Residence to teach this music. Very quickly, the music of Zimbabwe became a hit in the University’s music department and all around Seattle. Subsequently during the '70's, '80's and '90's, Dumi and his bands created excitement by performing and teaching this music up and down the West Coast.
A ripple effect was created when many of Dumi’s students began teaching this music to others. From its inception in Seattle in the early 1970's, it has spread all over the West Coast, from California to Alaska, including Canada. It has also spread to Hawaii, Colorado, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Texas and over 20 other states. Outside of Africa, many people can be found playing Zimbabwean music in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Scandinavia and Japan.
An annual Zimbabwean Music Festival called Zimfest began in Seattle in 1991 and continues to thrive and grow. Smaller music camps, in village-type settings are happening annually in several locations. There are many private teaching centers and people teaching children in the public school system. Many North Americans have traveled to Zimbabwe and several non-profit organizations have been formed to aid Zimbabweans. Today in North America, there are hundreds of marimba and mbira students and performing ensembles. Thousands of people of all ages are learning and playing this powerful music.
“Soul Resonance” looks at the phenomenon of this high energy, poly-rhythmic music that has engulfed the lives of many. There is a deep spiritual aspect of the ancient music that seems to resonate with the souls of many people who hear it. This musical movement in North America started with the late Dr. Dumisani Maraire, but many other Zimbabweans followed and are continuing to share their music with the world. These musicians include but are not limited to: Ephat Mujuru, Alport Mhlanga Astazio, Stella Chiweshe, Cosmas Magaya, Beauler Dyoko, Tute Chigamba, Irene Chigamba, Garadziva Chigamba, Julia Tsitsi Chigamba, Sheasby Matiure and Tendai Muparutsa.
Like a pebble dropped into the water, the music of Zimbabwe has become a ripple that is spreading around the entire world. The people of Zimbabwe are eager to share their cultural richness. They tell us it is helping to keep their traditions alive, during these challenging political and economic times in Zimbabwe.