Summer by the River: Make Music Day with Zawose Queens

240621 Zawose Queens Pic 1 Cr Michael Mbwambo

The Zawose Queens

There is spirit and fire in the music of The Zawose Queens. There's the vibrations of the ancestors, coming through on traditional instruments — soaring chizeze fiddle, buzzing illimba thumb piano, ngoma drums that chatter and thunder — and voices that go deep, high and out there. There's the connec:on to nature, to ceremony and ritual, in their dance-inspired fusion, their blend of the organic, harmonic and modern-day electronic. There are lyrics that tell, in their naive kigogo, of the passion for music, the wonders of life. Of pride in environment, in tradition. In their East African roots.

Pendo and Leah Zawose showcase the fluid polyrhythms and rapturous polyphonic singing of the Gogo (aka Wagogo) people of the arid, hilly Dodoma region of central Tanzania. The most famous exponent of this musical tradition is the late, great Dr Hukwe Zawose (Pendo’s father and Leah’s grandfather).

Maisha, the debut album by The Zawose Queens, marks the first time that women from this famous musical family take their place as lead vocalists and performers. Emboldened by workshops in songwri:ng and music production with visiting UK-based producers Oli Barton- Wood (Jordan Rakei, Obongjayar, Nilufer Yanya) and Tom Excell (Nubiyan Twist, Onipa), The Zawose Queens began writing their first ever songs. The resulting collection of songs range from the stripped back and traditional-sounding to those treated with subtle electronic elements, with beats and drops and found sounds and switch-ups.

Haberdashers' Borough Bands

Borough Academy is a local community secondary school. They run a Band Project from Year 7 where all students learn a band instrument in their curriculum music lessons and learn to play in bands.

The two bands performing for Make Music Day are a great representation of some of the incredible bands at the school. The Year 11 band have eclectic taste ranging from the Beatles to Bowie. The Year 10 band are all keen Jazz musicians and love the work of fellow SE London musicians, Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes.

Their performances tonight will reflect these wide ranging influences.

Kingsdale Foundation School

Kingsdale Foundation School present two exciting new rock bands made up of sixth-form pupils. These bands play material inspired by indie, art rock, Balkan folk and jazz to create their own original sounds.

Pupils have previously performed at such venues as the Amersham Arms and The Bedford, as well as Crystal Palace Festival and Twickenham Exchange. The bands have begun to record their material for release onto streaming platforms.

In partnership with