Opera singers inspired by the historical Mushandirapamwe Hotel to showcase Zimbabwe's vocal traditions in the USA at Princeton University

The Mushandirapamwe Singers is a group of classically trained singers from the Pan-African Diaspora, singing the music of Southern African tradition and revolution

The Princeton University Glee Club will kick off its new "Glee Club Presents" season on Saturday, Sept. 24, with a collaboration with the Mushandirapamwe Singers pan-African vocal ensemble in Alexander Hall's Richardson Auditorium on the university campus off Nassau Street in Princeton.

Professor Tanyaradzwa A. Tawengwa
Professor Tanyaradzwa A. Tawengwa

Mushandirapamwe Singers group was created in 2016 by former glee club president, Professor Tanyaradzwa A. Tawengwa, the granddaughter of George Chirume Tawengwa, with a group of vocal students from the University of Kentucky's esteemed opera program. The group aims to perform arrangements and original compositions celebrating music from the classical Pan-African tradition as inspired by the legendary Mushandirapamwe Hotel.

Mushandirapamwe is a Madzimbabwe ideology that means "operating as one." The Mushandirapamwe Hotel was developed in 1972 by George Chirume Tawengwa in Highfield, Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa. The inauguration of this venue was exceptional - Sekuru George was an African guy living under colonial Rhodesian control who developed a multimillion-dollar business empire and built this successful hotel in the blacks-only community of Highfield.

This place was devoted to the people of Southern Africa and their liberation movement. Many political activists and freedom fighters slept at the hotel, with rooms allocated to people who convene in secret. The area was also an unfiltered haven for artists from all throughout Africa. Exiled Grammy-winning performers like as Miriam Makeba, Mahotella Queens, Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, Hugh Masekela, Bakithi Khumalo, and Simon Chimbetu regard performing at the hotel as a rite of passage.

Professor Tanyaradzwa A. Tawengwa is a Zimbabwean gwenyambira, scholar, community organizer, composer, and singer whose storytelling serves to bridge Zimbabwe’s past and present, to inform a self-crafted future. Her craft lives at the intersection of music and healing, drawing from the generations of Svikiro (spirit mediums) and N’anga (healers) in her bloodline. She earned her B.A. in Music Composition (cum laude) from Princeton University in 2014, her Master of Music in Voice Performance from the University of Kentucky in 2018 and completed her doctorate in Voice Performance in 2021 from the University of Kentucky. She is an Inaugural START Fellow at Princeton University and a Carnegie Hall Music Advisory Committee Member

She is also the co-founder of the Zimbabwean Artists Collective, a collective of US-based Zimbabwean artists with the mission of providing Zimbabwean-driven cultural content to the Zimbabwean community in the United States of America; the Zimbabwean Scholars Symposium, a community of Zimbabwean scholars proactively working to repopulate the Zimbabwean academic archive with African-authored epistemologies; Resident Alien Opera, a Philadelphia-based opera company dedicated to centering the narratives of the “Other”; the founder of Nhanha Inc. a company dedicated to creating children’s edutainment materials in Zimbabwean languages.

Check out Zvichapera performed by Dr. Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa featuring the Princeton University Glee Club below.

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Mungwadzi Godwin

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