Zimbabwe born, Oakland based singer-songwriter and percussionist, Piwai, won an Akademia Award (US) for the month of February for her album ‘African Turquoise Vol.1’.
The Akademia Music Awards are dedicated to recognizing excellence in music throughout the world and supporting musicians interested in receiving a higher degree of market exposure and professional recognition for their work.
The award is more than just an honorary distinction–it is the first step in a worldwide promotional campaign to garner more exposure and recognition for artists.
Piwai’s early musical influences include the Shona and Ndebele people of Zimbabwe, Zulu and Suthu of South Africa, hymns and rhythms she learnt in the Catholic Church of Zimbabwe.
She has studied under renowned percussionists; Yagbe Onilu and Harold “Butch” Haynes, trained vocally at California Jazz Conservatory, and delved into the mbira – which can connect the living with the spiritual realm – with maestro Cosmas Magaya.
She has been known to complement her genre blending by singing in languages as diverse as French, Spanish, Lingala, Zulu, Xhosa, Swahili, and Turkish Judeo Spanish.
Her first album, ‘African Turquoise’, which launched in 2016, takes listeners on a journey: glimpsing life through the eyes of children who lived through the war in Congo; walking the streets of Harare; bearing witness to the world famous township of Soweto, or playing along the proverbial paths of Zimbabwean folklore.
Grammy Award Winner,Pianist, saxophonist, performer, producer, composer and lecturer, Kamau Kenyatta, had this to say about her music, “Piwai’s ‘African Turquoise’ is passionate and vital music that embraces and expands upon the richness of Pan-African traditions. Do yourself a favor and experience it.”
Another esteemed Emmy award winning producer, composer and percussionist Allan Phillips hailed her music saying, “In a cybernetic world that is increasingly blurring borders, ‘African Turquoise’ fabulously combines ancient folklore with contemporary pulse and feel. Stellar job, Piwai!”
Here is a video Zhara, from her award winning album “African Turquoise V1”