The Musicable project is about building capacity for People With Disabilities (PWDs) with a specific area of focus on upcoming women in music in Zimbabwe. Women, in general, have been marginalised in the Zimbabwean music industry, but more so those with disabilities. The level of inclusion for women with disabilities has remained minimal.
The project focussed on capacitating artists with disabilities. This was done by pairing them up with an established artist in a mentorship programme over 2 months, where they worked together and produced a song. Workshops were conducted and acted as a platform to raise awareness among leaders in the music industry about the challenges the artists with disabilities face within the industry proposing solutions. A short film documentary was produced, tracing the artists’ journey through their mentorship until the production of their song. The project ran for six months across three cities: Bulawayo, Harare and Mutare.
- To work with artists with disabilities
- To equip them with home recording tools
- To capacitate them by giving them access to mainstream markets
- To pair them with a mentorship with established artists
- To participate in capacity-building workshops with industry professionals and leaders within the arts and cultural sectors.
3 Panels discussions across three cities
15 Minute Video
In the mentorship program, three artists with disabilities from had mentorship sessions and rehearsed together with their mentors. The Mentors were Raven Duchess, Vuyo Brown and Pauline and they mentored Jacqueline Mpofu, Sithandazile Gumbo and Chipo Muchegwa respectively. Whenever possible, they had backstage access at shows of the established artists. Throughout the mentorship program, the two documented and shared their journeys through social media. The aim of the mentorship program was to impart knowledge about the industry and production.
Sithandazile Gumbo and Vuyo Brown
Raven Duchess and Jaqueline Mpofu
Pauline and Chipo Muchegwa
The theme for the series of discussions was “Amplifying Our Voices & Our Stories to Express Ourselves as People with Disabilities”
Participants of the Musicable Project, Jacqueline Mpofu and her mentor Raven Duchess went into conversation with various members of the music and arts community, as well as disability advocates. Sign language interpretation at the event was provided by Susan Masona. They shared their collaborative song “Nyarara Kuchema”, which had debuted on Star FM, the station with the largest audience in Zimbabwe. Jacqueline sharing her experience as a musician returning to the music scene with a disability.
The conversation between moderator Soneni Gwizi with mentor Vuyo Brown and her mentee Sithandazile Gumbo flowed smoothly and brought out many of the highlights of the mentorship relationship and progress made by Vuyo and Sithandazile. They delved into what the whole experience was like for the ‘new baby’ in the industry – Sithandazile, focusing on the positive highlights, including her first radio interview experience. Questions and comments from the audience indicated that there was much work to be done in order to bring more artists with disabilities into the mainstream industry, through more engagement with music promoters, producers, recording studios and radio stations, to ensure equal opportunities and a conducive environment for artists with disabilities to thrive. Vuyo Brown and Sithandazile Gumbo, released their collaborative song “Siyafana”, a few weeks later. It was clear that Sithandazile’s journey resonated with so many people, who are so pleased to see her emerge onto the music scene.
Panelists Pauline Gundidza and Chipo Muchegwa spoke in depth about their experience on the mentorship programme, and what they both learned and discovered about each other and about themselves, with moderator Soneni Gwizi punctuating the conversation with encouragement and useful information for everyone present. Chipo expressed her gratitude to Pauline for being a good mentor. She emphasized that she was aiming for the global stage and didn’t want to be known only as an artist with disability, but as a force to reckon with in the industry by all her musical counterparts.The pair’s song “Rudo Rwekare” was a collaborative project that was also one of the programme’s components was a hit with the audience. Among the Mutare audience were two young artists with disabilities, Jadee Shara Devine and Macho Man. Both came prepared to share their music and they blew the audience away. During the discussion, Macho Man spoke about his wish to also be included in the big music events and to collaborate with big artists. He mentioned that meeting Chipo was a “dream come true” for him.
The Musicable project was propelled by the Sound Connects Fund, an initiative by the Music In Africa Foundation (MIAF) and the Goethe-Institut. The Sound Connects Fund is made possible through the financial contribution of the ACP-EU Culture Programme, a project implemented by the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and funded by the European Union (EU). The Fund is also co-funded by Goethe-Institut and Siemens Stiftung.