It is not very often that we celebrate ‘the back line’ or ‘brass sections’ of live acts. All focus is usually only on the headlining star at the front. Tawanda Mapanda is one such artist who would never find his name in any press article or on flyers or posters because of the nature of his job, work and artistry – band musician.
By Plot Mhako
Interestingly this narrative is starting to change as we witnessed this week following the death of dancer-cum-drummer Delroy Scara Maripakwenda who was mourned by the entire industry.
Tawanda is a Saxophonist, Marimba master and coach, Mbira player, Percussionist and Composer. He is one of the few back-liners who is fast finding his foot in the front of the house as his musical influence and impact grows.
A product of one of the best schools to produce and nurture musical talent, Prince Edward School the 23 year old who has amassed so much demand for his musical gift and skill, possesses so much power in the potential of stardom and recognition.
Now a music teacher teaching Marimba amongst other instruments in Schools, creating a personalised signature of as a musician boasting of strong work ethic and discipline.
The audience at most remember the lead artist and the songs they sang and not necessarily the particular band members who helped compose the music.
Working as a session musician and building a reputation that gives you continuous business is not easy in Zimbabwe but Tawanda has managed to become one of the most sought after instrumentalists. Tawanda has been on call for impromptu bands put together to support myriad artists in one big gig like HIFA opening show or Gospel Galas or awards shows and festivals.
Tawanda certainly has the tools in the bag (saxophone, marimba) for a good fusion genre. Here are some of the projects he has been involved in.
- 2020. Has recorded the soundtrack for ‘Volpone’ a theatre show (UK) for Tangle Theatre Company. This was recorded at the National Theatre (UK) Music Studio
- 2020. ‘Meet My Ancestors’ UK arts residency at Battersea Arts Centre and funded by the Arts Council England for a project that will deliver high quality Zimbabwean Arts to England.
- ‘Houz of Gruv’ musician: which performed its set at Jacaranda Music Festival and supporting Caroleen Masa, Mafriq, Rocky and Ishan. Also played for the Houz of Gruv studio video set for Mafriq and Rocky.
- 2018. Played in the band for HIFA opening show which supported a big line up of artists including: Prudence Katomeni, Dereck Mpofu, Masa Caroleen, Haitian/American vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles, American pianist Jarrett Cherner, Israeli vocalist Judah Gavra, Queen of mbira Hope Masike, Dreams Band, Slavic Soul Party!, AfriKera Dance Theatre, Zimspiration choir, Makishi dancers, Giant Puppets, and the Move On Project featuring Enrico de Agostini and Italian guitarist Andrea Valeri.
- Tawanda was also no stranger to HIFA as he regularly performed with the Prince Edward Jazz and Marimba bands, when he was in high school.
- 2018/19. Appeared at the Zimbabwe Jazz Festival supporting Raven Dutchess and Tafadzwa Marova.
- 2018. Participated in the ZiMarimba festival: a Guinness world record attempt for largest marimba ensemble.
- He was billed to tour the USA with ‘Polyphony Marimba’ band in 2018, which included a stop and the world renowned ZimFest USA but unfortunately due to visa complications he could not travel.
- Resident saxophone player at Pabloz VIP club for sushi Sundays with P-Fire band.
- A major part in the “Exclusive Brass Section” which is a brass band that has support gospel moguls such as Michael Mahendere, Mathias Mhere, Marbel Madondo, Sebastian Magacha and Janet Manyowa. Consequently also finding himself supporting the Nominated Artists at Permican Gospel Music Awards.
- Tawanda Performed at (late) R.G. Mugabe’s last Birthday Celebration.
- Since 2017, he was also worked as a Marimba Coach to Arundel School.
- General trivia. Alongside his very extensive CV, Tawanda: has a Black Belt in Judo 1st Dan; has Received National colours in Judo 2012; received a certificate in ‘Life Saving’ – Bronze Medallion; represented Zimbabwe at the Youth Games 2012 & 2014 for Judo, winning Bronze medals; and finally represented Zimbabwe again at the 15th All Africa KURASH Championships 2017.