America-based singer returns to Book Cafe

HARARE – Highly-rated singer and mbira player Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa has the perfect chance to justify the hype around her when she performs at the Book Café Saturday evening.

Tawengwa will headline the popular Sistaz Open Mic Platform in a special performance entitled “Songs of Freedom”.

The rising star’s show will be in keeping with the theme for this month for Sistaz Open Mic which is “Celebrating Nelson Mandela”.

The songstress, who plays a unique brand of Afro-jazz gospel fusion, began singing at the age of four before joining the church choir a year later.

“Every time there was a family function, all my uncles would ask me to sing and throw money at me,” remembers Tanyaradzwa.

With family and friends encouraging her to make the most of her singing talent, Tanyaradzwa started piano lessons at Dominican Convent School at the age of nine before graduating to the cello three years later.

Though young Tanyaradzwa was a gifted singer, music was not her career choice.

“When I was much younger, I just really loved singing, but I was really good at other things too. I was really smart in school and I really loved sciences. I did maths, physics and chemistry for A ‘Levels. I thought I would sing a little, but become a doctor,” said the multi-talented Princeton University student.

“It was only when I went to the United States of America that I realised that music could be a viable profession.

“Since I have come back and produced my CD here, I realised that Zimbabwe was definitely an option to do good things. I look at Aunty Pru (Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana) and all she has done and I really admire that.”

The 22-year-old is now studying music, music performance, German, French, Italian and African studies instead of medicine which was her career choice as a youngster.

“When I was in the US, I decided to give my all to it and really pursue music.

“But I really, want to be an opera singer — that is where my passion is. That is why I do all these languages. When I write music, it is almost like therapy for me because it reminds me of home (Zimbabwe) and keeps me centred. It really keeps the connection with home alive,” said the America-based artiste.

The young Zimbabwean artiste, who interestingly learnt to play the mbira from a Malaysian fellow-student, brags about how she made it to legendary Princeton which is regarded as one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world.

“I didn’t choose Princeton, Princeton chose me,” she says proudly.

She is one of many Zimbabweans who have been recognised by universities overseas for their overwhelming talent.

Among these is another songbird Rutendo Machiridza who has been accepted by Berklee College in Boston, USA, and is still looking for tuition fees in order for her to be able to attend this coming September.

This evening Book Café patrons will get another opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the Princeton University student’s CD which was launched at the same venue in December last year.

Tanyaradzwa features the tracks Time and Time, and With You which is dedicated to the musician’s brother who passed away last March.

The rising mbira player’s show will cap off yet another Sistaz Open Mic session, which happens once a month at The Book Café.

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