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'Blessing Chimanga' comes to Bengaluru

Zimbabwe’s Afro music hurricane Blessing Chimanga and his band bring their up-tempo grooves for Bengaluru’s music lovers to shake a leg

The most number of fans, the highest footfalls in each concert and the maximum shows done each year is how most bands gauge their musical success. Not Blessing Chimanga. The champion of African music from Zimbabwe has a simple take on life: “My greatest success is not the number of people that know me but the number of people I’ve changed through my music. If people can relate to my music and their lives become even a little better, then I’ve achieved what I’ve set out to do.”

Bringing his blend of Afro-jazz, Afro-grooves and soul power music along with his Dreams band to Bengaluru’s bFlat in association with Exodus as part of a nationwide tour, Blessing ‘Bled’ Chimanga puts together high voltage African energy and live performance.

Fronted by Zimbabwe’s Shooting Star Chimanga, who dons the roles of marimba and percussions player, singer and songwriter, the band comprises Elisha Zimbeva on keys and mbira; a traditional Zimbabwean instrument, Blessing Muparutsa on drums, Tulani Kuwani on saxophone and guitar and Igiel Njolomah on the bass.

Talking over phone after their show in Shillong while they wait for their dinner to arrive, Chimanga, a regular visitor to India, says he is thrilled to be back with his band. “India has become a second home for me. This album world tour is special and we’ve titled it ‘Tose’ which means ‘together’.” He adds that his Indian experiences are always something he looks forward to. “While earlier we’ve played only in Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, this time we’re getting to experience a few more places like Shillong and New Delhi. We’ve noticed a growth in our following and are getting to experience the different cultures within the country.”

'Blessing Chimanga' comes to Bengaluru

Chimanga points out that his Bengaluru gigs are easily the brightest and craziest. “Every time we’ve come to the music capital, we’ve had amazing shows. One special aspect we’ve noticed is that in every gig, the audience is there purely for the love of music.”

The band goes beyond the scope of mere entertainment and also holds seminars and workshops to share their rich knowledge of African music. “We also want to explore the city’s music by meeting Bengaluru’s musicians. We’re going to the Nathaniel Music School for a seminar this time. That is close to our hearts since we love working with young musicians.”

On the cultural exchange, Chimanga reveals they have encountered many new instruments that they had only read about earlier. “We did a special workshop at Shillong where we actually got to see and feel new instruments. For me, the cultural exchange is best experienced through music and we’ve had the opportunity to work with numerous instruments and musicians. That is special for the band.”

When the Dreams band plays, Chimanga hopes people take home the energy and passion they exude on stage.

“We play our lives out and radiate pure joy on stage. We’d love our audience to take back a bit of that joy and happiness.”

On their origin story, Chimanga reflects that they were destined to come together. “I began my musical journey as a session drummer and then moved on to start the band. I met the guys in different setups; some at the college of music where I was studying and others came to me as friends. Long story short – all the guys I play with are less band members and more family. We go through challenges together and exist as one family. That bond translates into our music.”

The journey, he says, has not been easy. “We’ve had our ups and downs. I came from a family that did not appreciate what I was doing. It is hard when you don’t have your family’s support. Over time, I was able to gain their confidence, but I feel I could have achieved many things earlier. However, I’m grateful. I get to travel the world. I’m proud to be African, proud to be Zimbabwean and proud to share my music undiluted.”

His musical life has had its bad moments too, he adds. “We’ve lost money, missed flights and not got gigs we’ve wanted. We’ve planned concerts and people haven’t turned up. For me, it’s all been part of my learning curve. That is what takes me to the next level. When I’m down, I remember those moments and jump into my music. That encourages me to keep going.”

Check out Blessing Chimanga and his band at bFlat, Indiranagar, on June 16, 9 pm onwards. Tickets on bookmyshow, insider.in and venue. Call 25278361.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 9:32:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/count-your-blessing/article24163554.ece

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