Discussion & Demonstration
The Mbira: An African Musical Tradition
In-Person at MoAD
Apr 30, 2022
12:00 am
1:30 am
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About the Program

A conversation between scholar Umi Vaughan and author Māhealani Uchiyama in celebration of the release of her book The Mbira: An African Musical Tradition. The book is an overview steeped in the history and tradition of the mbira, the ceremonial instrument of the Zimbabwean people.

The mbira is made of a wooden soundboard and hammered metal keys. It can be played solo or accompanied by singing, clapping, dancing, percussion, or other mbira. In traditional Zimbabwean culture, the mbira is a spiritual practice that bridges the realm of the ancestors and their healing energies with the world of the living.

Māhealani will also share a few mbira songs.

About the Presenters

Māhealani Uchiyama is an award-winning dancer, musician, composer, teacher and author. She is the founder and artistic director of the Māhea Uchiyama Center for International Dance (MUCID), and is the director of the Polynesian dance company Hālau KaUaTuahine with whom she has toured internationally. Having studied Shona music for two decades both locally and in Zimbabwe, her work with the mbira has been recognized by the City of Oaklandʻs Cultural Funding Program, and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts Living Cultures Program. She has created the African American Mbira Project, an initiative to to introduce, support and perpetuate the music of the mbira of Zimbabwe within the African American community of the US. Ms. Uchiyama has produced several recordings, including her latest “Pasifika” and is the winner of the 2007 Hawai’i Music Award for Best World Music for her CD “A Walk by the Sea”. She has two CDs of mbira music, “Ndoro” and “The Sky That Covers Us All”. Ms. Uchiyama has authored the “Haumāna Hula Handbook for Students of Hawaiian Dance”, and “The Mbira, An African Musical Tradition” both published by North Atlantic Books / Penguin Random House. She is the former President of the Board of Directors of World Arts West, is currently Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, and serves as Vice President of MBIRA the Non Profit.

Umi Vaughan is a scholar/artist who conducts research, creates photographs and performances, and publishes work that examines the evolution and meaning of music/dance traditions across the African Diaspora. He holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan and is currently Associate Professor of Africana Studies at California State University Monterey Bay. Dr. Vaughan is the author of Carlos Aldama’s Life in Batá: Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum (Indiana University Press) and Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance: Timba Music and Black Identity in Cuba (University of Michigan Press).

This program is presented as part of our Community Free Day Thrive @ MoAD, made possible by generous support from Kaiser Permanente

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