Our music is centred around Mbira, an instrument that has been played in Zimbabwe for hundreds of years. Mbira music could be thought of as one of the classical musics of Zimbabwe. Its dissonant bell-like sound is played in cascading rhythmic patterns for uplifting secular occasions, as well as for spiritual ceremony and ritual. In an authentic context, mbira music can be trance inducing.
Nhapitapi started playing together in 2008 in Toronto. They played together under the umbrella name Masaisai (Mutamba and Memory are the co-founders of Masaisai). Masaisai had two components; the first component featured the presentation of Zimbabwean Mbira music. The second component had a more contemporary flavor, with a focus on electronic instruments and syncopated dance choreography. Masaisai rapidly became a hit on the Toronto African Music scene, where we were sought after to play at festivals such as Afrofest, for three consecutive years (2008, 2009, and 2010) and Bana Ya’Afrique (2008). Masaisai also played at popular locations in Toronto such as the Gladstone Hotel (2008, 2009, and 2010), The Silver Dollar (2010), The Clintons (2010) to mention but a few. Masaisai played in other Canadian cities such as Kingston (May and September 2009), Hamilton (2009 and 2010).
In 2009, Nhapitapi made a conscious decision to focus on Mbira Music. We put more time into learning Mbira, the history as well as different kinds of Mbira styles. Mutamba travelled to Zimbabwe (2009 and2010) to learn intimately more classical Mbira songs and acquire up to date instruments. These combined efforts culminated in the development of a repertoire that is both traditional in its spiritual depth, but also contemporary as we weave into it our own creations and combinations.
Whilst we continue to perform regular shows, we have also expanded into teaching this art, in Toronto and beyond. We teach Mbira style music and dance as a multidisciplinary collective. Mutamba and Evelyn teach Mbira theory and practice, while Memo teaches dance, shakers and drum. Our interest is to present Mbira Music as a living classical genre, which is entertaining and healing. Additionally, we hope to allow others to access Mbira music and hopefully learn it for performance and other purposes.
With a strong and growing repertoire, in depth knowledge of Mbira music and continuous networking within the music community, Nhapitapi continue to do self-produced shows in small restaurants, cultural festivals, farmer’s markets and community centers. We also play at community fundraisers and spiritual gatherings as our way of being in solidarity with community.
Nhapitapi was also featured on Rogers TV show Toronto’s Talent in February 2011 and some of our songs have been played on CBC radio 1. Some of our notable performances in include:
1. Harbourfront, 2010, July 1st
2. Carassauga, Mississauga (May 2010)
3. Liberian cultural Festival, Toronto (Sept, 2010)
4. Bring on the Sunshine, African Music Festival, Kitchener, Feb, 2011
1. Mbira Music Perfomances, as long you need us
2. Workshops (Zimbabwean Traditional Dance, Drumming, Shaker Playing, Song, Mbira)
3. Storytelling (Workshops and Perfomances)