Zim’s celebrated female bassists
HARARE – While the numbers of Zimbabwean female musicians continue to grow, female bassists remain a rare breed in this country.
In a recent interview with the Daily News on Sunday one of the country’s celebrated female mbira players Hope Masike poured praise on musician Edith weUtonga “for playing the bass guitar-an instrument considered unconventional for women”.
Edith began performing in Bulawayo with the all-female band Amakhosikazi, graduated into the band, So What? before forming her own band Edith Weutonga.
The famed bassist first made waves with her first album “Utonga” which features the hit tracks Chipendani, Mukaranga and Chipo.
Her second album entitled Kwacha will be released later this month.
Edith is not the only the Zimbabwean female bassist, there are others like veteran Penny Yon and young Miriam Chimbetu to keep her company.
Miriam Chimbetu comes from a popular music family.
Her late father Naison “Dr Nero” and uncle Simon “Choppa” and grandmother “Mama Elizabeth” who are also late were all involved in music.
Now Miriam, sister to another famous Chimbetu, Tryson is trying her hand in music.
She is particularly focusing on the bass guitar with the help of her brother Tryson.
She was initially taught to play the revered bass guitar by her late father.
“I started music when I was just eight-years-old, with the encouragement and assistance of my father”, she told the Daily News recently.
“I then mastered the guitar when I was in Form two, since then I have been practising. I want to pursue playing the bass guitar when I am done with school as I am doing my ‘O’ Levels currently,” she said.
Her brother Tryson told the Daily News his determination to make his sister the next big thing.
“I also want her to play the acoustic guitar as well as Zahara. I will continue teaching her after she is done with school. “Miriam is not yet a full time dendera musician that is why we are trying to promote dendera gospel which will be promoted by Miriam. Gospel music is very dear to her,” he said.
While Miriam is still very much a greenhorn, bassist Penny Yon, who is a senior official at Pamberi Trust, is a veteran who has seen it all.
Although she began music at the age of six playing the piano, Penny only started playing the guitar at the age of 36.
“I used to play with the group Mhepo in the 90s; I played with them in the last four years of their existence before they left for greener pastures”, said the respected arts administrator.
“The experience was wonderful; it was a whole new school of music for me. It was a great four years,” she said.
Penny said people were actually fascinated by her proficiency on the guitar.
“Despite what people might think about the music industry, I was not prejudiced, I generated a lot of interest and support from people because of the instrument I played,” she said.
The disbanding of Mhepo has not ended Penny’s love affair with the bass guitar.
“I still play with my family at private functions and just for fun. I love playing the guitar hence the decision to continue playing despite the band having disbanded years ago,” she said.