BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
UNITED STATES-BASED Afro jazz star Clare Nyakujara says working in the Disney Animal Kingdom over the past two years has been lucrative and opened many doors in her career as an entertainer.
Nyakujara, who currently has a contract with Disney World Animal Kingdom, has disclosed that learning to play a kora instrument was a game-changer to her career and made a huge financial difference in her life apart from enhancing her artistic credentials.
“Financially, it has really made a difference and my CV looks good and it’s a huge opportunity for me. I play for millions of people every day. I meet and connect with people and just that is a big door opener in itself. It has changed my life and I am loving it all the way,” she said.
“I’m doing music all day, every day of my life I do my Disney sets and then my Clare sets where I get to do me with no restrictions, so the job gives me flexibility to do my own projects. Right now I’m in the studio.”
Nyakujara, who is signed to an agency called Zuma Zuma Circue, which does circus and music shows in America and Europe, said her big break came after Disney announced that it was looking for someone who could play an indigenous instrument other than mbira which is now well-known in the US.
“I went on a crush programme and learnt to play the kora (instrument) and the Disney Harambe market director loved my energy and gave me a chance and now it’s been two-and-a-half years,” she said.
“I play the kora, which is a West African harp, on the main stage of the Harambe atmosphere on six, 30-minute sets a day in a space of six hours every day.
“It’s all about searching and always looking for opportunities and using the correct channels and for me this is huge. I am probably the first southern African female professional kora player making strides on the biggest platform in the USA,” she said.
She said Zuma Zuma Circue agency — which works closely with Disney — facilitated her visa application because of the legalities involved in working in the US.
Although the instrument has its origins in West Africa, Nyakujara said she sang in her Shona language during her sets and includes her original material to allow those who attend the shows to experience an authentic feel of Africa.