WHO WE ARE
Over the years, our band configuration has changed. We have had 13 members!
And we have loved them all. Four of the originals members who formed Kuungana in 2009 still remain.
All of our current and former members are pictured below along with a little bit of information about our history with this music.
Thanks for visiting!
My love of this music began in 1988 in Seattle dancing to Dumi Maraire’s band and to Kutanda……..and then I just had to play the music. It enchanted me with its rhythms and danceability. I love the physicality of playing these wonderful instruments. I am taken with the culture from which this music came and the way it is being passed along to the next generations.
I have played in a number of performing marimba bands since I started playing about 15 years ago – Sweet Pumpkins, Juba Marimba, Ruvara, Kuungana. I have directed several youth marimba bands as well – the longest running/most performance based was the Big Bad Monkeys! I continue to love the music and the people involved.
I started playing Marimba in 4th grade, when Deb was teaching music classes at my school. I grew to love the music, so I played in a small marimba band with some classmates, but the group fell apart. After that, I was invited to join Kunganna.
I’ve been through many different bands and musical groups, playing jazz, rock and roll, and classical music, but Kuungana’s style has been one of my favorites.
Since childhood, I have enjoyed folk and classical music and have played many instruments including cello, recorder, piano, guitar, banjo, mbira and marimba. I became enthralled with polyrhythmic sounds of Africa and especially the bands inspired by Dumi Maraire. I have played with various marimba bands over the last 20 years with Juba Marimba and Kuungana being the most significant.
Much of music we play is mbira music that is played on marimba. Our teachers have included Zimbabweans such as Sheasby Matiure, Kurai Mubaiwa, Alport Mslanga and Lucky Moyo. The biggest thrill is taking a song we have learned and making it ours. We add percussion, singing, movement, and dynamic variations to make listening and dancing to our music even more fun.
I was introduced to marimba at Samish Woods Montessori, where I spent seven years attending school there. As part of their music program, the teachers brought in Deb to teach the 9-12 class (fourth, fifth, and sixth graders) how to play the marimba. I started playing in fourth grade, and eventually we rounded up enough people who were interested enough to form a band. We disbanded when I was in eighth grade due to busying schedules and decreased interest, but Jesse and I moved on from that band to Kuungana. We joined officially in April of 2016 and from there I was introduced to the mbira.
In 1979 I stumbled on the opportunity to escape from my European Art Music straightjacket and learn marimba and mbira with Dr. Abraham Dumisani “Dumi” Maraire, a Zimbabwean guest artist at the University of Washington. No more sheet music, fixed compositions, or performance anxiety, just twisting my head and body around a much more fun way to play music.
Through the music I’ve become friends with all kinds and ages of people from all over the world and played amazing venues. I’ve been in several bands; marimbas have been part of my living room furniture for almost 40 years. I love it for its own sake, for the feelings it draws out, and for the connections to people.