As we gear up for Zimfest 2023 (August 3-6 in Corvallis, OR), let us take a moment to revisit our wonderful Zimfest Online 2022 concert, and celebrate our friend Draze (aka Dumisani Maraire Jr.) with his new single and music video! Read on for more info on both.
Mazvita – Emmy Award-Winning Songwriter-Rapper “Draze” Drops New Hip Hop Single “Mazvita”
Mazvita is a single from Draze’s upcoming album, “African American.” Dubbed “Ancestral art,” the single blends rich African melodies with raw hip-hop energy to create a fresh, yet familiar sound that feels like “home” to fans in America and abroad. The album is dedicated to his father Dumisani A. Maraire, and his mother Lora Chiorah-Dye, in gratitude for all they instilled in him.
You can find the music video here, and learn more about Draze and his music here.
Zimfest Online 2022 – In December, Zimfest released on YouTube a live viewing of a collection of incredible pre-recorded performances and presentations. That video is still available!
You can register and get the link at Zimfest Online 2022. Artists featured are: Ntswai Ntswai Arts, Tawanda Mapanda, Anesu Ndoro, Tafadzwa Matiure, and Napoleon Jambwa and Pangea.
We hope you are having a good (early) spring, and please enjoy some March Music!
We are pleased to present the winning Zimfest 2023 graphic by Penny Martindale of Olympia. It appears on the Zimfest website homepage in the form of a banner, and in a downloadable Save-the-Date card on the 2023 Overview page.
Zimfest applications for teachers and performers closed on February 28. Thanks to all who applied. The Organizing Committee has plenty of work to do in the weeks ahead and we look forward to putting together a program including old friends we have not seen in several years, as well as introducing exciting new teachers and performers from North America and Zimbabwe.
The board has developed a set of policies and recommendations related to COVID-19 safety at Zimfest 2023, which are now available here.
We wanted to make sure that this information was available ahead of the of upcoming deadline for teacher and performer applications. As a reminder, applications are due in just over a week, on February 28th!
Just a note to let you know that AmazonSmile, the charitable arm of Amazon.com that has allowed customers to direct donations to charitable organizations when they shop online, will be winding down as of 20 February 2023. For the past decade, you have been able to choose the Zimfest Association as the organization you would like to receive 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon purchases (see Support Zimfest). At times just pennies, these amounts have added up to significant donations to our non-profit Zimfest Association over the years.
We will be sad to see AmazonSmile go. Perhaps if you have been thinking of making an online purchase, make a point to visit AmazonSmile before Feb. 20th and direct your donation to the Zimfest Association.
We are excited to announce that all Zimfest 2023 concerts, daytime and evening, will be OUTSIDE on a stage in the OSU Lower Campus, also called McNary Field. This decision was made for several reasons: the main concert venue at OSU, LaSells-Stewart Center, will be unavailable because of renovation, and both alternative ballrooms (in the Student Union and Alumni Center) were judged to have shortcomings such as minimal backstage space and no loading dock.
Our concert production team suggested several years ago that we have our evening concerts outdoors, but none of our recent hosts allowed music outside after 10 PM. The music (noise) curfew in the OSU Field will be 11 PM, allowing us plenty of time for music-making under the stars!
This is the year! One big advantage to us is that we will be able to make all concerts open to all performers regardless of visa status! (No “visiting Zimbabweans perform in the afternoon only” this year!) Admission will be by donation, with pre-concert ticket sales beginning when registration opens (targeted for May 1). Those of you who have registered for workshops by donation in the past should be aware that requesting donations for events that are effectively free allows us to pay honoraria to Zimbabweans who come here on a B1 visitors visa (see Workshops by Donation, scroll down). We ask that you support our visiting artists, and support Zimfest’s move to Evening Outdoor Concerts, by donating as much for your concert tickets as you paid in previous years.
Of course, none of this will happen unless we receive more applications for performing and teaching! Remember, the application deadlines for Zimfest 2023 are coming soon, February 28. Performer applications here
Teacher applications here
ZA Board and Organizing Committee Music Dancing Across Borders
To those of you who might be worried about getting rained on during outdoor concerts, please note that there is historically a 3% chance of rain that first weekend in August, the lowest for the entire year. This is the year!
Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, renowned Zimbabwean musician and pioneering female gwenyambira, passed away at her home in Kuwadzana on 20 January. Born Stella Rambisai Nekati Chiweshe on July 8, 1946 in Mujumi Village, Mhondoro, Mbuya Stella Chiweshe was undoubtedly Zimbabwe’s Queen of Mbira and one of the country’s foremost cultural ambassadors. Married to German national Peter Reich, Mbuya Stella had returned to Zimbabwe telling relatives that her days were coming to a close and she needed to settle back home (more info is available here).
North America students of mbira may be familiar with Chiweshe’s many pre-independence mbira singles, the first of which, “Kasahwa,” went gold in its initial 1974 release. For four years following independence, she was the featured mbira player in the Zimbabwe National Dance Company. In 1986 she formed the Earthquake, a mixed band which included three Zimbabwean-style marimbas and hosho played by her daughter Virginia Mukwesha. Mbuya Chiweshe recorded several albums, performed numerous times in Europe and the WOMAD festival and took at least two tours to the US, participating in Zimfest 2007.
I met Mbuya Chiweshe during my first visit to Zimbabwe in 1980-81; she performed on mbira in a 1st Anniversary of Independence show, opening for Dumi Na Maraire Marimba (an ensemble featuring all Zimbabweans plus myself). Following my return to Zimbabwe in 1985 I discovered that Mbuya Stella and Virginia were living a short distance away from my place in the Avenues area of Harare. I became a frequent visitor and thus was around and able to lend a helping hand when she formed the Earthquake – with some of the same marimba players from St. Peter’s Kubatana that I had gotten to know five years previously! It has always seemed like each time I have been in Zimbabwe, Mbuya Stella and her music was just around the corner. I know her spirit will endure, and her music continue to inspire in the many memorable recordings she made.
Steadfast in her musicality and strong spirituality, there was no one like Mbuya Stella. She will be sorely missed. My condolences to her daughter Virginia Mukwesha-Hetze and the entire Chiweshe family. Nematambudziko.
Stella Chiweshe and the Earthquake – Harare 1990
Claire Jones, Zimfest Coordinator Music Dancing Across Borders
We previously announced a July date for Zimfest 2023, at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. However, after more planning and consultation with our host, we have made the decision to change the dates to August 3rd-6th. We apologize to anyone who is negatively impacted by this change, but feel that it is the best decision for the festival, for the reasons listed below.
The primary reason for this change is that significantly more suitable classroom space is available later in the summer, especially for marimba, hosho, and drumming classes which require sound isolation. Furthermore, we will have exclusive use of our preferred dorm/dining center, because most other conferences on campus wrap up before these dates.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that teacher and performer applications are now open! The application deadline is February 28th.
Zimfest 2023 will retain the festival theme “Music Dancing Across Borders,” given our awareness that circumstances for immigrants and visa applicants remain difficult both here in the United States and in Zimbabwe. We are steadfast in the knowledge that music and dance are unifying forces and look forward to creating togetherness at the festival! We are inviting you to submit designs and artwork related to this theme for use on the Zimfest 2023 poster, tee shirts and other promotional material. Your design could reference Zimbabwean performing art in one or more of its many manifestations: marimba, mbira, dance, etc. Be aware, however, that we loved the simplicity and soaring feel of the heron originally created by Carrie Rodlend for the 2020 live festival (see below).
Please submit your designs electronically toclaire[at]zimfest[dot]org by January 15, 2023. The organizing committee will make its selections by February 15, 2023. Send your artwork via e-mail as a high-resolution image in digital format (JPG preferred); do not embed the image into a Power Point or PDF. Please include your full name and telephone number with your submission. If your image is chosen as the principal design for this year’s festival, you will receive an honorarium of $100 and a Zimfest 2023 t-shirt. The winning artist will be featured either on the website or in the festival guide.
Graphics artist volunteer – must have expertise in working with image files to format them for mailers, posters, etc. It would be great if the creator of the chosen artwork can do it themselves, otherwise we need a separate person. Write to Claire or volunteers[at]zimfest[dot]org if you can help with graphics.
Legal Considerations: By submitting your work to the 2023 Organizing Committee, you grant the Zimfest Association an irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce the submitted work in whole or in part in any medium, electronic, physical or otherwise. You must be willing to modify or allow a graphic artist to alter the winning entry for use on our printed materials. The original work will become the property of Zimfest Association, who will assume all rights to future reproduction of the work for promotional and fundraising purposes.
See you in Corvallis July 21-23!
Zimfest 2023 Organizing Committee
Zimfest is excited to provide another opportunity for our community to support Zimbabwean artists and view some incredible performances and presentations! Join us on Saturday, December 17th, 2022 at 11am PST (2pm EST, 9pm in Zimbabwe) for a live viewing of a collection of pre-recorded performances and presentations. This will be streamed on YouTube, so there will be a chat feature for live discussion of the content! With registration you will get access to the video on December 17th, which will be available to watch for several months afterwards.
Ntswai Ntswai Arts – Ntswai Ntswai Arts is a traditional and afro musical band that specializes in Zimbabwean traditional music, playing Mbira, Marimba, Ngoma and Hosho.
Tawanda Mapanda – Tawanda is a Marimba master and coach, Mbira player, percussionist, saxophonist and composer. Tawanda’s performance will be a fusion between marimba, mbira, ngoma, and saxophone to make a unique sound through looping.
Anesu Ndoro – Telling Ngano: Learning By Doing. In this session, we will explore the interesting process by which ngano folktales (and indeed most of Zimbabwe’s arts, visual and performance) are learned through doing. As a demonstration, Anesu will share three folktales, and will ask you, the viewer, to participate as this is the way you learn how to do it!
Tafadzwa Matiure – Musician and traditional music teacher, Taffie will present Gwindingwi rine Shumba soprano Marimba tutorial: a rendition of Thomas Mapfumo’s Gwindingwi rine Shumba traditional song demonstrated on the soprano marimba.
Napoleon Jambwa and Pangea – We are a group of Zimbabwean musicians who are based in Cape Town and met with one goal; to do music across the border. We play Zimbabwean traditional music using Mbira, Marimba, Ngoma, Hosho and traditional dances.
Now that the ZA Board has identified a host institution (Oregon State University in Corvallis) for an in-person Zimfest from July 21-23, 2023, it’s past time to get to work on it!
What you can do to help
Online applications are scheduled to open in early January. We are actively recruiting volunteers and team members to work on the Zimfest Organizing Committee (OC). Many of the current OC members are willing to continue on and may be able to mentor inexperienced or young volunteers who want to learn on the job as interns.
Volunteer for the OC – members take responsibility for major areas of the festival, meet regularly via Zoom, and share files on Zimfest’s Google Drive. Thus, OC members must be technologically capable of working remotely and using Google Drive. (But don’t worry, there are many non-OC tasks that can be done without needing to meet regularly or use Google Drive!). We need people to work on the following:
Concert Production – line up sound person and equipment, handle logistics of concert production on outdoor and indoor stages. The main concert hall at OSU will not be available to us in the summer of 2023, and we will be using a ballroom in the Student Union with little space backstage for storage and/or sound desk.
Volunteer Co-Coordinator– this could be an intern position
Marketplace Coordination-this job could be split into two: one person to deal with applications and another to coordinate booths onsite
Site Coordinator and Local Arrangements- (preferably local Oregonians): work with Festival Coordinator to interface with host institution; research third party vendors to procure any needs that OSU cannot provide
Other jobs take up varying lengths of time leading up to and at the festival, but do not require you to meet regularly with the OC:
Graphics person to work with image files for publicity, etc.
T-shirt and merchandise production
Publicity and Marketing
Festival Guide layout (required if we are to produce a printed guide this year)
Assisting Zim Guest Coordination – arranging shuttles and airport pickups/drop-offs, etc.
Call for Festival Artwork coming soon!
Thanks in advance for your help and support,
Somehow, 2022 is already trying to sneak out the door, but before 2023 is upon us, I wanted to take a few minutes to let you all know about some exciting things happening in our community.
First and foremost, we are thrilled to announce that Zimfest 2023 is officially a go! The experiment that was Zimfest 2022 taught us many things, but mostly that we really missed seeing our friends and playing wonderful music. After over a decade, we will be returning to Oregon State University in Corvallis on July 21-23 and we hope to see as many of you as possible!
Secondly, you may recall some of the amazing pre-recorded performances both from our online festival in 2021, and between live acts at the Lincoln Theatre in 2022. We received so many amazing videos that we simply couldn’t include all of them. So on December 16th and 17th, we will make them available online for your viewing pleasure. Look for details and registration soon!
And now, I have to take a moment to thank all of our Zimfest Association members! Yes, this was secretly a membership drive all along! There are now almost 100 active members, all of whom allow us to continue working to provide an annual festival while maintaining our connection to the music of Zimbabwe year round! Not a member yet? No problem! Thanks to our streamlined new membership service, it’s easier than ever to join the Zimfest team. Simply go to https://zimfest.org/about/membership. From there, you can follow instructions to become a member, renew a membership, or verify your membership status by plugging in your email address. We now have the option to auto-renew so you can contribute every year without even having to think about it! Please remember that if your membership is more than a year old, you will need to sign up again using our new system. Perks for members include a waiving of the festival registration fee, early access to workshop registration, and even a discount for our upcoming online concert series in December.
“But Daniel, I’m already a member, yet I am compelled, nay, impelled to contribute to Zimfest even more. Whatever can I do??” Great question! There are lots of other ways to contribute. Consider making a tax-deductible donation of whatever amount works for you. Shopping online? When you shop on Amazon, you can support Zimfest by choosing the Zimfest Association as the organization you would like to receive 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. If you’re selling stuff on eBay, you can choose to donate a percentage of the final sales price to the Zimfest Association. Please visit https://charity.ebay.com/charity-auctions/my-causes/ and search for Zimfest! Finally, if your company supports matching donations, find out from your supervisor or Human Resources department how your company can match your contributions!
Whatever you may be celebrating this year, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our online event next month, and in Oregon next summer!
Membership questions? Please contact me at:
Zimfest Association board member and Membership Queen on behalf of the The Zimfest Board
I write to gratefully announce the donation of $2225.99 from the HopeFirst Foundation to the Zimfest Association. HopeFirst was originally founded by Paul Mataruse, Kim Foley and Diana Chamrad and helped fund the US tour by Matemai in 2009 in addition to projects in Zimbabwe and The Gambia. HF President Kim Foley, having moved to Ohio, recently made the decision to close the books on the Foundation and donate the remaining proceeds to Zimfest. The funds will be earmarked for the ZA Travel Expense Fellowship program to assist Zimbabweans traveling to Zimfest in the future. Thank you Kim and HopeFirst!
The ZA Board, following the consensus of Village Meeting participants and the organizing committee, is in the process of seeking a host for Zimfest 2023 that can accommodate a larger audience than this year’s venue (Skagit Fairgrounds and Lincoln Theatre). If you have not yet completed the Post-Festival Survey and have comments for us, please complete the survey before September 1.
Enjoy your summer!
Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator
This blog is the main news channel for the Zimbabwean Music Festival (aka Zimfest). The Zimfest organizing committee posts updates on the annual festival, and the Zimfest Association board provides meeting minutes and other info. We hope this blog becomes a mechanism for a rich dialog with Zimfest participants. Subscribe to receive blog posts via email.