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Commissioning Fund - Netsayi Chigwendere
Projects | Commissioning Fund | Professional Development

Netsayi Chigwendere is using her award to develop a unique sound, transposing the haunting melodies of traditional Zimbabwean mbira music to the grand piano, played by jazz pianist Zoe Rahman, her key collaborator in the Women in Music commission. Netsayi said: "Although Zoe and I have enjoyed working together before, we've never had the chance to develop a sound that combines our unique experience, cultural heritages and passion for the same message."

Netsayi Chigwendere

The award has had a profound effect on Netasyi's approach to her work. "Having money to pay musicians to rehearse and record is a learning curve. It teaches you how to go forward and it's psychologically as well as practically useful". It's enabled her to think about her professional relationship with musicians and empowered her to hire and fire.

Netsayi's music describes a personal journey towards reconciling the dual identities of a Shona girl born in London, to parents exiled from Southern Rhodesia, who then grew up in Zimbabwe and returned to England open to many cultural influences. Chigwendere uses her beautiful music as a powerful message for peace and reconciliation, questioning the status quo.

Netsayi has an amazing knack of combining sparkling artistry and maximising chance meetings with luminaries. She's played live on BBC Radio, has performed at the London Jazz Festival, the Spitz, the ICA, the Royal Festival Hall and at WOMAD. She recently worked with Nitin Sahwney on the Bristol Aftershock Project and, as if this wasn't enough, sings backing-vocals with Spirit Talk Mbira and US-based Afro-funksters, Panjea. She's also performing and co-writing for Soothsayers' (Idris Rahman/Rob Hopcraft) second album and works with Germany-based Zimbabweans, Migrant Souls.

Netsayi Chigwendere's next UK date is a free lunchtime concert on Saturday 11 October at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

Debbie Golt

See more on Netsayi on BBC Radio 3's "World on your street" site - together with sound clip of her moving "Refugee Song"