Piwai combines the sounds of her Zimbabwean homeland with her original songs about Africa, struggles both political and personal, love and hope. In her music Piwai describes her musical journey, the challenges she faces in the American music industry, and how her dreams told her to follow the mbira. In early 2012, Piwai recorded her first album, “African Turquoise,” in collaboration with James Buzuzi of Bongo Love. It fuses jazz and traditional African rhythms, including mbira and percussion from Bongo Love’s Jacob Mafuleni and John Mambira.
As with her album concept, Piwai’s concerts take the listener on a journey: glimpse life through the eyes of children in war-torn Congo; walk the streets of Harare; bear witness to the slums of Soweto, India, and the favelas of Brazil; or play along the proverbial paths of Zimbabwean folklore. For Piwai, music is all-encompassing: “The sum total of my very existence and every action I make manifests in music – the rhythm of my life.”
Piwai was surrounded by music from an early age. Her first influences include music from the Shona and Ndebele people of Zimbabwe, Suthu and Zulu tribes, and the Zimbabwean Catholic Church. She joined her first choir at the age of 10, wrote her first song at 13, and hasn’t stopped since. Piwai went on to study with renowned percussionists Yagbe Onilu and Butch Haynes, trained vocally at the Jazz School of Berkeley, and delved into the mbira – a traditional African instrument associated with profound spiritual union – with maestro Cosmas Magaya.