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)
Born in Colombia – Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra is a multi-instrumentalist, lyricist and arts educator.
As a musician, Ruben leads the 13 piece outfit New Tradition band created to accompany international artists with some of the most sought after musicians in Toronto, Canada. As a composer, he has written original scores for the CBC, City Life Film, Amnesty International and the National Film Board of Canada.
As a lyricist and spoken word artist he has presented his pieces in festivals held in Canada; Cuba; Venezuela; Colombia and Chile. Highlights include being commissioned by the Remix Project and the Department of Canadian Heritage to create and perform a spoken word piece welcoming Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean to deliver the opening speech introducing the ‘Ignite the Americas’ conference.
As an arts educator Ruben has worked at York University teaching and lecturing since the age of 22. Ruben currently facilitates workshops through the Ontario Arts Council’s Artist in Education Program bringing drumming and storytelling as a healthy form of self expression to inner city school as well as schools in rural areas across Ontario. He is currently the Program Coordinator and instructor for the Palisades Media Arts Academy based in Jane and Finch Toronto. Ruben is a PhD (ABD) candidate in Musicology/Ethnomusicology specializing in traditional and urban music.
Djouna Big-One (Djouna Mumbafu) has been known as a prominent animateur (atalaku) and dancer in Empire Bakuba. Among others, he revolutionarised Congolese music with his choreographies and « atalaku »-yells. Following the death of Pepe Kalle, Empire Bakuba fell apart into various factions such as Fondation Bakuba and Delta Force, a former youth group set up by Pepe Kalle. Djouna was part of Delta Force together with Godé Lofombo, but after some time Djouna decided to start a solo career.
In 2004, he released a first solo album « Tonnèrre de Brest », and a live DVD, and in December of the same year he was a finalist for the Kora Awards with the song « 6600 Volts », but he didn’t win the award. In Djouna’s current band, called Orchestre Big One, the younger brother of Pepe Kalle, Ali Kalle, is one of the singers. Ali Kalle’s voice is very much reminiscent of Pepe’s voice.
A DVD with clips of « Tonnèrre de Brest » came out in 2005.
Madagascar Slim ( 3 TIMES JUNO AWARD WINNER )
History. Born in 1956 as Randriamananjara Radofa Besata Jean Longin aka Madagascar Slim came to Canada in 1979. Early on I explored a path of Chicago blues with Steven C and the Red Rockets in Toronto.
Canadian appearances of Tao Ravao and Tarika playing Malagasy blues and roots music inspired a pursuit of contemporary interpretation of tradition previously uncharted.
Through a Canada Council study grant I was able to return home and learn valiha (bamboo zither) playing technique of the Malgache from Sylvestre Randafison in 1995. This was followed by public appearances attempting to fuse Malagasy tradition with blues, and transposing plucking styles to the acoustic and electric guitar.
Perfecting the balance of African tradition, specifically Malagasy, with electric Chicago blues has led to many collaborations with musicians including Bill Bourne and Lester Quitzau in Tri-Continental, Donne Roberts in “Slim et Donne” and with Ndidi Onukwulu doing her original repertoire of gospel roots blues.
As a practitioner of African guitar in Canada I was invited to join Alpha Yaya Diallo, Mighty Popo, Pa Joe, Adam Solomon and Donne Robert on the recording African Guitar Summit. This project developed into a concert band and a second recording session, African Guitar Summit II.
My most recent body of work has further developed the interplay of the Malagasy Salegy style (very fast 6/8 rhythm with an accent on the second beat) with blues. The five-year path of recording songs that are purely acoustic and traditional, mixed with electric blues and original lyrics has led to the release of “Good Life, Good Living”. The CD was recorded at my home studio involving some outside expertise and players, but mostly done on my own.
Events and Accomplishments:
First Malagasy traditional guitar public appearance at the Bamboo Club (Toronto) on a program featuring Downchild Blues Band and The Afro Nubians. March 1995.
First African blues band concert supporting Ali Farka Toure, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, August 1995.
World Blues Concert with Irshad Khan and Murray Porter, Harbourfront Centre, September 1996.
Secured booking agency with Hugo Rampen of Amok Music, 1997.
Recorded and release first CD, OmniSource, 1998.
World Music Juno Award for OmniSource 1999.
Record and release collaborative CD “Tri-Continental” for German label Tradition & Moderne with Bill Bourne and Lester Quitzau in 2000.
Roots and Traditional Juno Award for CD Tri-Continental, Tradition & Moderne, 2000.
Record and release “Tri-Continental Live” CD Tradition & Moderne, 2002.
Record and release “Let’s Play” CD Tradition & Modern, 2003.
Record and release “Drifting” CD Tradition & Moderne, 2004.
Provide back up band for Ndidi Onukwulu at her debut appearance Global Café Festival, Distillery District, Toronto, July 2004.
Toronto Blues Society Showcase at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals, Guelph, with Donne Robert, Ndidi Onukwulu, October 2004.
Record and release “African Guitar Summit” CD for CBC Records with producer Todd Fraracci, November 2004.
Blues Summit Conference Showcase with Donne Robert and Ndidi Onukwulu, Delta Chelsea Hotel, Toronto, January 2005.
World Music Juno Award for participation on “African Guitar Summit” (CBC Records, 2005)
Toronto Blues Society Canadian Music Week Showcase: The Perpetrators, Ndidi Onukwulu, Wickens-Knight, Healey’s, March 2006.
Record and release “African Guitar Summit II” CD for CBC Records with producer Todd Fraracci, September 2006.
Ontario Council of Folk Festivals “Official Showcase”, w/ Donne Robert and Ndidi Onukwulu, Kingston, October 2006.
Open for Taj Mahal and the Hula Blues Band on his European tour.
Chosen to play with Angelique Kidjo on her appearance for Grandmother Against Aid in Africa in Toronto.
Nati Haile’s musical roots are in Ethiopia, singing in the church choir,
where his passion for rhythm, melody, and songwriting began.
At only 17 years old, Nati released a collection of music influenced by his
upbringing in the church called Of Gospel Songs.
That experience led him to the making of his first commercial single, “Ken Saymesh” which gainedNati national attention in Ethiopia.
His follow-up single, “Legenetuwa”was a unique remake of a popular song by Muluken Mellesse called “Sewentua” and was so successful, it solidified Nati Haile as a star in
In 2005, Nati released his debut album, Liet Yenegal, to an international audience and sold over 1 million copies across the world.
After a five-year hiatus, Nati’s study of world music helped him create and fuse together the sounds and rhythms of African beats, reggae,blues, and hip-hop grooves.
He released his 2nd album, Beka, to his fans around the world.
The title track was an instant hit, and the album was critically acclaimed in his home country of Ethiopia, and in North America.
Today, Nati lives and tours out of Toronto Canada and his critics have compared his voice to classic Ethiopian singers, Muluken Mellesse, and Tewodros Tadesse.
With a busy touring schedule and worldwide concert dates, Nati has found time to begin work on his 3rd album as a writer, lyricist, and performer.
The Toronto-based, world-renowned recording studio, Phase One International is where Nati has chosen to create this collection of new music.
Nati has the honor of recording in the same space as superstars, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Celine Dion, and Beyonce.
Nati Haile’s career is a reflection of both his proud Ethiopian upbringing and his current life in Toronto, Canada.
From a young boy singing in the church choir to a successful recording
and touring artist, everything Nati does is for his fans and his
EMMANUEL JAL was born into the life of a child soldier and through unbelievable struggles managed to survive and emerge as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation born out of his personal experiences.
Emmanuel Jal’s fifth studio album “The Key” was released on September 9, 2014 on Gatwitch / Universal.
The new 13 track album includes collaborations with Grammy award winning artists Nile Rodgers (who produced the lead single “My Power”) and Nelly Furtado (who appears on the duet “Scars” and “Party”). “The Key” is Jal’s most ambitious and sonically adventurous music project to date.
Two songs from Emmanuel’s album (“Scars” and “We Fall”) will also feature on the Warner Brothers’ soundtrack from ‘The Good Lie’.
In 2008 a full-length documentary on his life was released. The film, “Warchild,” won 12 prestigious film festival awards worldwide. In the same year, his autobiography, also called Warchild, was published by Little Brown.
Afro Pop duo, Ruff-N-Smooth, is a Ghanaian music group which was formed in 2007 but released their first major single in 2008.
Ever since they have been on the rise with 6 International awards to their credit and counting.
The group is made up of two individuals, Clement Foh Baah and Ricky Nana Agyeman, popularly known in the showbiz as Ahkan(Smooth) and Bullet(Ruff).
Their debut album as a group, “Life is rough and smooth”, in 2009 has the ever popular song, ‘Swagger’ which turned out to be a rebirth of these young musicians.
They have even become more popular after releasing continuous hits after hits with singles such as ‘Azingele’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Naija Baby’, ‘Liberian girl, ‘Break Waist’, ‘Afrobeat’, Monalisa, ‘Send your Fire’, and many more bangers.
The group has performed across the globe with tours in South Africa (Big Brother Africa 2010), UK (London), France, Norway, USA, Canada, Germany, etc.
Ruff n Smooth have featured with many sensational international stars such as Diamond Platinumz,J.D. Era, Shatta Wale, Stay J, Wizboy, etc.
They are a force to look out for on the global stage bringing Afrobeats to the world.
Days to Afrofest
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto, Ontario – March 24, 2016
In a meeting held yesterday, Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, the City of Toronto and Music Africa Inc. mutually agreed to grant Afrofest a two-day permit for July 9 and 10, 2016 in Woodbine Park.
Peter Toh, President of Music Africa, the organizers of Afrofest, is pleased with this decision. “Music Africa has always maintained its readiness to work with city officials to resolve our permit disputes and yesterday we were able to constructively do this. Afrofest has been successful as a two-day festival and will now continue its success in the same format.”
“We are grateful to the City of Toronto and Councillor McMahon for reconsidering and granting our two-day park permit,” adds Toh.
In the meeting, Afrofest organizers acknowledged that there were some permit violations related to past years of the festival and, the city admits to unclear communication regarding permit end times.
On March 15, Music Africa issued a release announcing that the festival permit would be limited to a one day event, calling for community action and support. Toh indicated that the positive outreach and community support was greatly appreciated.
Going forward, all parties are committed to ensuring a successful festival and looking forward to maintaining Afrofest as part of the cultural and musical landscape of Toronto.
For more information contact:
Music Africa: 416.469.5336
Toronto – The City of Toronto has limited Afrofest at Woodbine Park to a one-day event. This move will not only make it difficult to organize a viable festival but also hinder its growth and community impact. The reasons given are that permissible sound levels and permitted time frames were exceeded in previous festivals. Afrofest organizers maintain that these allegations are inaccurate.