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Mbira, field recordings, and social justice

November 07, 2016
11:30 AM - 01:30 PM
404 New Sibley Library (Eastman)

Through worldwide Zimbabwean music education, recordings, and performances, MBIRA helps to sustain the ancient musical traditions of Zimbabwe, as well as creating opportunities for Zimbabwean musicians and instrument makers.  In this talk, Erica and Fradreck will discuss how the recording and circulation of mbira music links back to questions of social justice for Zimbabweans living back home, as well as those in growing Zimbabwean diaspora.

Artist biographies:

Fradreck Mujuru is considered the greatest living mbira maker, whose instruments are being played on every continent. A very talented mbira player from the largest extended family of mbira players in Zimbabwe, Mujuru has played mbira since the age of 8. After touring Europe and South Africa in the 1990's, he taught and performed several times in the US, including residencies at Grinnell and Williams Colleges in 2001, and the University of Michigan in 2012. Fradreck teaches and performs mbira, drums, and singing. At home, he is busy playing mbira in traditional ceremonies, building mbira instruments with his apprentices, hosting numerous international guest mbira students, and facilitating the Zimbabwe operations of two small non-profit organizations, including MBIRA. Mujuru plays the songs, and the style, that have been used heal the sick, and call ancestors to earth to give advice to the living, from time immemorial.

Erica Azim is America's leading performer and teacher of the ancient Shona mbira tradition. A Californian who has played Shona mbira music for 45 years, she has lived and studied in Zimbabwe, and played on commercial solo mbira recordings, as well as recording and touring with Zimbabwean musicians. She has played mbira at venues ranging from Zimbabwean village ceremonies to the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Erica conducts regional mbira workshops throughout the US and Canada, and holds internationally-attended mbira camps in California and around the world. Erica's mbira students now teach mbira at various American universities. She is particularly adept at making mbira music accessible to American audiences. Erica founded, and directs, the non-profit organization MBIRA, devoted to educating the public about traditional Shona mbira music and culture, and supporting it in Zimbabwe (MBIRA has paid 19 Zimbabwean mbira makers over half a million dollars for their instruments sold since 1998).

Category: Humanities Project Events