Mbira ensemble releases scorcher

HARARE - Norton-based mbira ensemble — DzePamvura — has released a seven-track album, they are confident their music will endear Zimbabweans to their roots and raise mbira music back onto the podium.

Inextricably tied to traditional Shona spiritual beliefs and cultural practices, the mbira is currently finding more recognition on foreign soils than it is at home.

The band comprises Golden Nyasha Gwata, playing lead mbira, Tonny Khumalo on Karimba rhythm, Gwedeza Gwedeza on bass, Takawira Derera on the Duriro rhythm and Tendai Kazuru.

Named DzePamvura, the album features tracks which bridge the gap between the modern and traditional, young and old.

The album also boasts of Makorokoto, a rendition which promotes Zimbabwe’s heritage and exhorts the country’s tourism.

DzePamvura band spokesperson Gwededza says their music has since received rev reviews from neutrals and critics alike.

“Our seven-track album has a lot of variety and provides a wonderful awakening,” Gwedeza told the Daily News.

“The mbira is our culture but it’s so often relegated to the terraces, yet it is more powerful than a guitar because it can release a good or bad spirit on someone, something that a guitar cannot do.”

The ensemble also seeks to introduce students to the basic playing techniques of this ancient instrument at DzePamvura Arts Centre along 238 Galloway Street in Norton.

Gwedeza said the group also exposes students to traditional singing practices, hosho-playing, and the traditional social and cultural context of the music.

“At our Norton facility next to Pakare Paye Arts Centre, we guide students to understand the music from the traditional Shona point of view as well as integrating it with their own musical understanding.

“Both beginning and advanced sections are offered. We are currently teaching students from various schools and colleges across the country,” Gwedeza said.

“We have done a few performances. What people need to understand is that mbira is a special instrument. And it should be respected.”

The album was mixed at Ike Mhlanga’s Digital Studio which is renowned for mbira music production.

Members of this broad family of instruments are known by a wide variety of names.

In the Anglo world, it is often called a thumb piano, as well as marímbula (also kalimba) in the Caribbean Islands.

Mbira came to prominence after the worldwide stage performance and recordings of Thomas Mapfumo, whose music is based on and included the mbira, in the 1980s.

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