ZIMBABWE’S internationally acclaimed drummer and guitarist Blessing Chimanga, popularly known as “Blades”, left the country yesterday for Italy where he is expected to collaborate with other Italian artists in various projects until end of November.
Report by Jairos Saunyama, Own Correspondent
Blades, who left the country in the company of his friend and artist Naphtali Chivandikwa, is expected to hold shows in towns and cities in Italy with the help of Italian artists Romeo Fortunato and Max Covin.
Both Covin and Fortunato were in the country last month where they held a number of shows in orphanages, schools and other places.
The quartet has formed a group called Zimboita — which means Zimbabwe and Italy collaboration.
In an interview before departure, Chimanga said the tour will be based on a cultural exchange programme.
“This is not the first time to perform in Italy and this is why I am returning there, because I left an unfinished job. I left Italians crying for more and together with Covin and Fortunato we have decided to join hands to form a group.
“We have a project with two young Italian musicians a drummer and guitarist, and they were here on holiday the whole of September.
“We staged some charity shows, concerts in schools and workshops around Zimbabwe.”
“The name of our group is Zimboita, meaning Zimbabwe and Italy collaboration. The band is made up of two Zimbaweans, with me on marimba and vocals, Naphtali Chivandikwa on bass guitar while Fortunato is on lead guitar and Covini on drums.
“We are playing a set of music that bases on the traditional genres of both countries and this is the point of collaborating and bringing a unique sound. As a group, we are looking at touring the whole of Europe and even Africa on gigs twice a year. I am going to launch Let The Drums Speak DVD in Italy,” he said.
Chimanga started professional music life in 2006 when he played for the late Sam Mtukudzi and from that time he has played with many musicians like Josh Meck, Bob Nyabinde, Hope Masike, Dudu Manhenga, Chiwoniso Maraire, Tariro Negitare, Eric Wainaina (Kenya) Ray Phiri (South Africa), The Kokos (Norway) Ary Morais (Norway) Pastor G and Chikwata 263.
He has played at big stages and festivals in Zimbabwe and at international events such as Hifa, Festival in Botswana, Stubbetorpet Festval in Sweden, Winter Jazz Festival, and others.
He has had the privilege to share the stage with artistes such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Maraire, Victor Kunonga, Cocktail Slippers (Norway), Hugh Masekela (South Africa), Pastor Donnie Mckalakin (US), and Benjamin Dube (SA), among others.
He is also the founder of the Let The Drums Speak contest event, an annual festival that features artists showcasing their skills in playing the drum.
Chimanga is well known in Italy and he has performed with Amanda e la Banda, an Italian group that visited Zimbabwe in 2010 and 2011 courtesy of the Italian embassy, for the October International Jazz Festival.