Blades set for US music exchange programme

ZIMBABWEAN drummer and guitarist Blessing Chimanga, popularly known as Blades, has been selected to represent the nation at the OneBeat music exchange programme to be held in October in the United States.

WINSTONE ANTONIO

The versatile Chimanga who is also a mbira player and vocalist is among the 1 500 successful applications across the world who are going to represent their different nations.

The drummer on Monday wrote on social network Facebook: “I’m overwhelmed to announce that I have been selected among 1 500 applications across the world to represent Zimbabwe at this music exchange programme in America in October this year and working with other 24 lovely musicians from other countries for the OneBeat musical exchange. My God is faithful.”

Chimanga yesterday told NewsDay that he was happy to be representing the country at such a prestigious event.

“I have been watching the OneBeat music programme for the past three years and when I saw the advert online, I applied in November last year and did not think I would make it,” Chimanga said. “Glory be to God for such an opportunity to showcase my talent and Zimbabwe’s artistic gift in States.

“I believe this is going to be a life-changing programme to me where I am going to meet 1 500 artistes from across the globe and exchange notes and ideas.”

Chimanga said he had already started communicating with artistes from Colombia, Spain, India and South Africa who are also going to be participating at the event.

According to OneBeat’s website, the programme is an incubator for music-based social entrepreneurship, where innovative musicians from around the world launch collaborative projects designed to make a positive impact on local and global communities.

It is an initiative of the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the groundbreaking New York-based music organisation Found Sound Nation.

OneBeat employs collaborative original music as a potent new form of cultural diplomacy.

It brings musicians between the ages of 19 and 35 from around the world to the US for one month each to collaboratively write, produce, and perform original music, and develop strategies for arts-based social engagement.

It begins with an opening residency, when fellows collaborate to create original material, record new musical ideas, and incubate their projects.

OneBeat fellows then go on tour, performing for a wide array of American audiences, collaborating with local musicians, and leading workshops with youth.

In a closing residency, each OneBeat musician sets out their plans for the future, developing projects in their home countries linked to a mutually-reinforcing network of music-driven social enterprises.

Meanwhile, Chimanga is expected to leave the country today for the Zimboita African Tour where he will perform in Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania.

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