Introduction Often, some albums are uniquely timed yet the music is timeless. This is
so very true with Shona Imports collection of the 'last of Gramma' records mbira
recordings. These albums never made it to CD. Sadly, the original master recordings
have also been lost. With a perpetual shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe,
Gramma Records was forced to recyle some of their tape media and early recordings,
like those of the albums described below have been erased — and certainly
gone forever. In 1999 Shona Imports went to Gramma Records and purchased the
last of these recordings on vinyl. For any serious mbira player, listener, these
are "must have" recordings!
Mbira Music of Zimbabwe: Ephat Mujuru & Spirit of the People Immediately following Zimbabwe's independence, Gramma Records started
to release some of Zimbabwe's mbira masterpieces on vinyl. In 1981, to
mark the first anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence, Ephat Mujuru was
tasked with releasing an exemplary LP. That effort gave birth to the legendary
"The Mbira Music of Zimbabwe" played with the Spirit of the
People band — the late Thomas Wadharwa (sekuru) Gora, Forbes Gushungo,
Martha Mujuru, Martha Tembo, Lovemore Chiripanyanga and Patrick Mberi.
Mbira Music of Zimbabwe "represents the spirit of the people from
the time of Monomatapa to the present day and Ephat Mujuru and the Mudzimu
waVanhu (Spirit of the People) personify the thread of traditional music
in the fabric of the art of Zimbabwe." - Gramma.
Mbavaira: Ephat Mujuru & Spirit of the People
Another Gramma Records legend, this album features Thomas Wadharwa Gora
as the lead localist and lead mbira (kushaura), Tabetha Matiki on hosho,
backing vocals with Ephat on mbira.
Mutimukuru (the Big Tree): Ephat Mujuru & Spirit of the
"The idea for the LP comes from the traditional mbira song, mutikukuru
(big tree) in which the big tree pledges to provide shelter for all as
long as they remain good and united. Mujuru sees the big tree as a symbol
for the African continent. Its roots symbolize the traditional music of
Africa and the spread of its braches and leaves represent the far reaching
continuity of this music through Afrrican people who were uprooted from
the African continent through slavery and the slave trade. They all draw
from the same tree— the Big Tree." —Gramma.
Nyamaropa Nhimutimu: Mazai Mbira Group
Although not popular in Zimbabwe, Mazai Mbira Group is one of the most
versatile mbira group in Zimbabwe. This album represent some of their
best work. With songs like Chipembere, Chipindura, [imbwa yangu] Machena,
Bangiza and Chigamba — it represents their unique intepretation
of some of the most popular arrangements in the mbira repertoire.
Soul of Mbira: [recorded by] Paul Berliner
The original Gramma Records' release of Mhuri yekwa Rwizi's Soul of Mbira
as recorded in the field by Paul Berliner in the early 70's. This is the
only LP that has been released as a CD on the Nonesuch label. We have the
original. Be original. Get the original.