The youth that make up Shumba range in age from 11 to 17. They have studied with their director Sheree Seretse for at least 3 years, some as many as 8. The Shumba youth ensemble usually plays using eight marimbas--three sopranos, three tenors, a baritone, and a bass--and hoshos, or gourd shakers. The marimbas are hand-crafted xylophones made from various hardwoods. The keys are fine-tuned to reflect the tones played in African societies. Each key sits above a resonator with a vibrating membrane to amplify the sound and add a unique "buzz" to the music.
In addition to private parties, Shumba has had the wonderful opportunity to play publicly with National Childrens recording artist Dan Zanes at the Moore Theatre, at the Folklife Festival in Seattle, the Paramount Theatre and the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York! They have also shared their music at educational events at our local schools, A.I.D.S. awareness workshops, and fundraisers for Zimbabwean orphanages. We have had the great fortune to stay very busy over the past six months. Thank you to everyone for your support of our group!
About Shona Music
Music and dance traditions have been deeply ingrained in Shona culture from ancient times. Independence in 1980 from British colonization allowed traditional music that had been suppressed to reemerge so that today, traditional and contemporary Shona music is once again an open and vibrant part of Zimbabwean society and is spreading throughout the world.
About Marimba Music
Marimbas are finely crafted xylophones made from hardwoods such as vermilion, mahogany and peduk. The keys are fine-tuned to reflect the tones played in African societies. Each key has a resonator which amplifies the sound, producing a unique musical effect--from the clear, bell-like tones of the soprano marimba to the deep, percussive tones of the bass. Marimbas are about five feet long; their heights vary from two feet to more than five feet. The ensemble of instruments creates music that is exciting to listen to...and wonderful for dancing! The music has a universal quality that appeals all ages and backgrounds.
African marimba music sounds unique to North American audiences because most of the marimba music played in the Western Hemisphere has been South American. However, marimbas originated in Africa hundreds of years ago and were imported to South America in the sixteenth century. The original African sounds were incorporated into and changed by the music of the local cultures.
It is only within the last twenty years that African marimba music has flourished in the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. During most of that time, live marimba music could be heard only in a limited area of the West Coast. More recently, it has expanded nationwide.