Black Umfolosi: Washabalal’ Umhlaba / Earth Song

The Zimbabwean ensemble Black Umfolosi takes its name from a river in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, whence the group’s ancestors migrated almost 200 years ago. And though the zigzagging riverbed has been mostly dry in recent years it remains a wellspring of identity and memory inspiring the gentle cadences and sparkling harmonies of its distant sons and daughters. Over the course of … More Black Umfolosi: Washabalal’ Umhlaba / Earth Song

Cris Gera: Music in Me / Nziyo Dziri Mandiri

The singer-songwriter Cris Gera recorded his latest album, Music In Me/Nziyo Dziri Mandiri, in 2016, but more than three years passed before its release. The eight-track collection is a lively Afro-jazz/pop/R&B mix about love, hope and the challenges of everyday life in Zimbabwe, but a ninth song recorded separately and released only on social media grabbed the spotlight, eliciting death threats … More Cris Gera: Music in Me / Nziyo Dziri Mandiri

Nobuntu: Obabes beMbube

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country but in Nobuntu it may have found its waves—warm, rolling a cappella tides that wash over the soul. Nobuntu means “Mothers of Compassion” and Obabes beMbube (Women of Mbube) is the third—and perhaps defining—album by the female ensemble from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city. Their two previous records fused Afro-jazz, soul, gospel and folk, some songs featuring voice only, some backed … More Nobuntu: Obabes beMbube

Mokoomba: Luyando

The first album from the Zimbabwean band Mokoomba, released in 2012, was a rock-oriented disk with an urban, pan-African orientation. But tradition was embedded in the group’s name—Mokoomba means “respect for the river”—and their second album, Luyando (Mother’s Love), is a gentler, more acoustic collection devoted to the history and culture of the band’s home territory, the Zambezi river valley. Built on the vibrant voice of lead singer Mathias Muzaza (singing mostly in Luvale and Tonga … More Mokoomba: Luyando