Mbira Lesson Category: Mbira Teacher
One of the most celebrated mbira players in Zimbabwe and abroad, Forward Kwenda offers lessons to both local and international students.
About Forward Kwenda
Forward was born in Buhera, Zimbabwe. As a young boy, Forward excelled in traditional dance and recitation of ancient poetry. At the age of 10, he began to play ngoma (drums) and hosho (gourd rattles) for his mother’s gombwe (rain-making) spirit.
At an early age, Forward borrowed an mbira and, with no teacher other than occasional radio programmes, began to play on his own. In 1984, Kwenda moved to Harare and began to play mbira with other musicians. Within a year, he had formed his own mbira group and was making records and performing on national radio, as well as performing constantly at mapira ceremonies. During this period, he was informed by powerful rain-making spirits that he was to devote his life to playing mbira for their ceremonies. He was particularly known as a teenager for bringing the desired spirits to a ceremony by the end of the first song he played at a ceremony.
Kwenda claims “It’s not me, my spirits just play through me,” and takes no credit whatsoever for his virtuosity.
When I pick up my mbira, I don’t know what is going to happen. The music just goes by itself, taking me higher and higher until I can end up crying because the music is so much greater than a human being can understand…..I just have to get out of the way so spirits can make my mbira play – it isn’t me – I’m just amazed.
In 1997, Kwenda toured the United States with Erica Azim, and recorded the Shanachie CD Svikiro: Meditations of an Mbira Master. In 1999, a transcendent field recording of Kwenda on a Zimbabwean mountaintop at sunset. In February 2000, Kwenda performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC with Erica Azim, and they toured North America during 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Buy Forward Kwenda’s music
Forward has released numerous albums over the years.