UW Ethnomusicology Archives concert recordings: Mbira Music of the Shona People of Zimbabwe, 1985

Overview of the Collection

University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives
UW Ethnomusicology Archives concert recordings: Mbira Music of the Shona People of Zimbabwe
1 items  :  EC - 1 vct (VHS, color); WD - 1 DVD (digital, color, stereo); Duration: 00:16:26
Collection Number
Concert recording of the Mbira Music of the Shona People of Zimbabwe. This concert was recorded in 1985 at the Brechemin Auditorium, University of Washington, and was produced in the facilities of Instructional Media Services of the University of Washington.
University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives
University of Washington
Ethnomusicology Archives
Box 353450
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065430974
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Access is restricted.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Ephat Mujuru was born in a small village in Manicaland, on the eastern border of Zimbabwe near Mozambique in 1950. His grandfather and primary caretaker, Muchatera Mujuru, was regarded as a powerful medium for the ancient Shona spirit Chaminuka (who was considered a miraclemaker, prophet, magician and, most importantly, rain-maker). Ephat grew up with mbira culture and music ail around him. His earliest memories were of elaborate ceremonies, called biros (possession ceremonies), that featured all-night dancing, many mbira and hosho players, music that lasted all night, and the sacrifice of oxen for the Chaminuka spirit.

When he was just 20 he formed his first group, Chaminuka, with Charles Mutwida and Hakurotwi Mude. They traveled around Zimbabwe, or Rhodesia as it was called during colonization, performing throughout the brutal decade of the Zimbabwean war of independence. In 1980 he renamed his group Spirit of the People and recorded his first album with them in 1981. He was instrumental in the formation of the Dance Company of Zimbabwe and was the first African music teacher to work at the prestigious conservati ve Zimbabwe College of Music. In 1 982 Ephat traveled to Seattle where he lectured about Shona music and taught mbira and marimba at the University of Washington and around the Seattle area. In 1989 he recorded Rhythms of Life (Lyrichord) which featured traditional Shona ngoma drumming and a few mbira tracks.

Ephat Mujuru was a prolific composer and storyteller, and though he was able to play all of the five different types of Shona mbira. his focus was playing the 22-25 key mbira dzavadzimu (mbira of the ancestors). Ephat was one of the first Shona performers to amplify his mbira with a transducer microphone. Playing the mbira outside of its deze (a hollowed-out calabash used as a resonator to naturally amplify the gentle sounds of the mbira) Ephat can be seen romping about the stage tethered to his wired mike in home videos taken during this time.

In 1992. Mujuru's first electric recording Hapana Mutorwa made it all the way to the top of the charts in Zimbabwe. In the late 1990s he recorded two releases for Music of the World. The first, Ancient Wisdom, was a solo acoustic recording featuring songs and fables from Zimbabwe, and the second was the well-received collaboration with Dumisani Maraire of the popular Shona Spirit, which is notable for both its traditional and original compositions. Ephat also recorded Journey of the Spirit during this time, but it has yet to be released.

On return trips to Zimbabwe he recorded a few successful pop albums with an electric version of Spirit of the People. His release in 2000 from ARC Music (U.K.), Masters of the African Mbira. features Ephat and Dumi in tracks recorded prior to Dumi's death. His most recent release in September 2001, Musiyano. recorded with Zimbabwean rumba group the Eden Boys, was an all-electric recording that got positive reviews in the Daily News in Zimbabwe. Elated, Ephat had a renewed sense of purpose and was looking forward to his time touring the U.S.

- The Beat; Los Angeles, Janet Planet

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Title as shown in video footage: "Mbira Music of the Shona People of Zimbabwe, performed by Ephat Mujuru" (mbira dzavadzimu and dimbwa)

Total duration: 16:26.

"Dub date" 6/6/85 (probably recorded 1985).

VHS tape digitized and DVD work disc (WD) produced 12/2011.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

1 optical media : DVD - unpublished; Tracks: 4
Contents:Ch. 1 - Nyamaropa (mbira dzavadzimu) Ch. 2 - Marenje (mbira dzavadzimu) Ch. 3 - Marenje and Chandasarira (mbira dzavadzimu) Ch. 4 - Dumba Ratsva (dimbwa)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Ethnomusicology
  • Mbira
  • Shona Music
  • Shona--Africa--Southern Africa
  • Songs--Zimbabwe
  • Video recordings in ethnomusicology

Geographical Names

  • Africa
  • Dimbwa
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Zimbabwe

Form or Genre Terms

  • Video recordings

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Mujuru, Ephat (instrumentalist)