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About the Filmmakers

The husband and wife team of Douglas & Laurel Epps have finished creating a full-length documentary called “Soul Resonance” about Zimbabwean music coming to North America in 1968 and how it is continuing to spread.  From mid 2007 until December 2011, Doug and Laurel were traveling, interviewing, filming and editing this documentary.  This project has been self-funded as a labor of love.   

We were introduced to Zimbabwean music while living in Homer, Alaska,
where there are now four Zimbabwean style marimba bands in a population of approximately 5,000.  After hearing our first performance at Alice’s Champagne Palace by a group playing with Michael & Osha Breez, Doug’s heart was touched and our life changed forever.  It took over a year before Doug started playing this music with a group named Shamwari, which means Friend in the Shona language.  He quickly learned to play and loved the entire process of learning and listening.

At the end of 2006, we decided to leave Homer to find a new life in the Lower 48.  Doug only knew that he wanted to continue to play this powerful music.  We slowly understood that a ‘job’ would come when we first found where we were meant to live. We began to slowly travel to the different marimba communities in the Pacific Northwest where this music is being played:  Seattle, Whidbey Island, Hood River, Portland, Eugene, Scio, Santa Cruz and then on to Santa Fe and Boulder.  Along the way, Doug was struck by the unique story of how this music came to be, both in Southern Rhodesia in the '60's and then how it began and continues to spread in North America and beyond.   Doug thought out loud about doing a documentary movie about how this music came to North America.  Even though we both laughed at the thought, the idea took root and planted itself into our souls.   We began to tentatively tell the people we met that we were ‘thinking’ about doing a documentary.  The reaction from everyone was “GREAT!”  “IT’S A STORY THAT NEEDS TO BE TOLD!” 

In May 2007, we attended Camp Tumbuka near Santa Fe, NM which was a small Zimbabwean-style music camp.  Before attending, we made the decision to start telling people that WE WERE GOING TO CREATE A DOCUMENTARY!   We spent time talking to everyone we met to ask their opinion about our idea.  Also during that week, we culminated the sale of our float plane up in Alaska.  We decided that the Universe was giving us the financial means to begin this project, so i
n July we began the process in earnest!  We found a short-term rental in Seattle to use as our temporary home base; we connected with as many people from the early days who were still living in Seattle; purchased a camera and supplies necessary for interviewing.  At Zimfest 2007 in Olympia, Washington, we interviewed many Zimbabweans and Americans that had been touched by this music.  We also filmed many of the evening performances.  In January, 2008 we flew back east to connect with people there.  We traveled to Williams College in Massachusetts, and several other locations to interview several people.  Then we returned to Alaska to start the post-production process, while waiting for our home to sell there.  In March we traveled to Hawaii to interview & film many people on several islands who are still playing this music.  In May, we flew to Colorado to interview & film people in the Boulder music scene and also down to Santa Fe and Camp Tumbuka to film & interview people there.

In June 2008, our adventure took us in a different course, temporarily.   Laurel’s Father in San Diego was planning to fly up to Washington to attend Zimfest 2008 happening in Tacoma over the July 4th weekend.  In late June we discovered that he had Stage 4 Lung Cancer with months to live.  Since our home in Alaska was waiting to be sold, we decided to spend time with Bob and allow him to live at home until he passed.  We all went to Zimfest together at Pacific Lutheran University and we filmed some of the evening performances.  We were privileged to be allowed to show a 9-minute preview of our film during the Saturday evening performance.  While we were living in San Diego, we continued working on the post-production of our movie, when possible.  Bob passed peacefully in his own bed on 10-02-2008.  Earlier that same week, we received an offer on our home in Alaska and accepted it. 

For several months in early 2009 we were traveling again to find our new home base.   We spent several months in Santa Fe, connecting with the wonderful and established Zimbabwean music community there.  However, in March 2009 we decided to make our home in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  It reminded us of the beauty in Alaska without the ocean and glaciers, but with more sunshine, and moved into our new home in May.  Zimfest 2009 was held in Boulder, Colorado in June, which was the first time Zimfest happened outside of the Pacific Northwest.  We again filmed some of the evening performances and interviewed a few people there as well.   Working on our movie had been on hold for almost a year.

We had been trying to connect with the musician Taj Mahal to have him be the narrator for our movie.  
He was introduced to this music in the 1970’s after attending a performance of Dumi and the Minanzi Marimba Ensemble in Seattle.  He is still friends with some of these early people and one of them helped connect us with him.  In November 2009 his schedule opened up for him to come to Santa Fe to allow us to record his narration.  After that wonderful session with Taj, we finally knew we were getting closer to finishing our movie.

We lived in Pagosa Springs, Colorado starting in 2009, while we were finishing the editing of “Soul Resonance”.  Then we moved back to Anchorage, Alaska in 2013.  In both locations we started our own Zimbabwean marimba ensemble which includes seven instruments:  three soprano, two tenor, one baritone and one bass.

Doug is an Electronics Engineer, commercial pilot and flight instructor. He flew commercially in Alaska for six years when we lived in Homer. He also had 25 years experience in designing and developing video equipment for use in industrial and broadcast applications.   He is currently a commercial pilot flying for RAVN Alaska based in Anchorage. Laurel has a Master of Arts Degree in Fine Art and is retired. Doug and Laurel enjoy playing this wonderful music in their Anchorage marimba ensemble called "Knock on Wood".