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Sky is the limit for Mavengeni

Tendai Mavengere


While her peers are fascinated by modern-day music, rookie mbira musician Tendai Mavengeni thinks otherwise and believes youths should give their hearts to their own traditional music to keep their cultural heritage alive.

Eighteen-year-old Mavengeni surprised all and sundry when at the age of 14 she released her debut album titled Destiny, laden with the traditional beat and the distinct mbira sound.

Unlike her peers, Mavengeni is inspired by “old school” musicians.

“I was inspired by the likes of the late Chiwoniso Maraire, Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, Stella Chiweshe, as well as West Africans Manu Dibango and Salif Keita among others,” Mavengeni said.

An ’A’ Level student at Mabelreign Girls High School, Mavengeni wants to make a mark on the global stage.

“God willing, I would want my music to be listened to worldwide and tour around the world representing Africa and my country. My biggest dream is to reach a stage where my music is listened to across the globe,” she said.

She said music is in her DNA, having been introduced to it by her father at a tender age.

“Well, I grew up listening to a lot of traditional music because my father used to play that kind of music. My father’s friend James Buzuzi referred me to my first mbira teacher, Trymore Jumbo, and I began mbira lessons when I was eight,” she said.

“I can play a number of instruments, but my area of speciality is the mbira.”

Armed with two albums — Destiny (2014) and the self-titled Tendai released this year — Mavengeni said her live performances are being curtailed by her studies.

“Due to the demands of school work, I have had a few performances this year, three to be precise, which are the Music Camp in Marondera, my album launch in March and the recent show dubbed Dandaro as Tendai meets Zee,” she said.

“These limited performances have caused me to rely on session musicians, but I guess when I finish school I’ll be able to assembly a band of my own.”

She bemoaned the lack of space for upcoming musicians, especially females.

“The closure of the Book Café was a drawback because that place was for everyone who thought they had something to share and I actually benefited while performing at the Sistaz Open Mic. Now that it has closed, not much has been done to uplift female talents,” she said.

While balancing studies with a music career can be tricky for many, Mavengeni feels music is just an inborn thing that cannot ruin her studies.

“I believe that talent is something in me and different from books where we have to study to be successful. There is time for books and time for music and I juggle between the two,” she said.

“Well, my showbiz position does not affect my association with fellow students. Most of them have embraced my music and support me.”

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