I recently heard of the international organization called Music Crossroads International (MCI) and I just knew that I had to write about it. While music education has been removed from most schools in the U.S., young musicians with a bit of fire in their bellies still have a shot at making it big. Well, the story is a little different throughout Africa where young musicians don't always have access to instuments and other resources to need to build their musical skills and make a living from their talents. The best talents often end up leaving their home countries to seek better opportunities in other African countries like South Africa or move to the U.S. or Europe to really be able to flex their wings.
All of this and more make the work of Music Crossroads International so darn interesting. Music Crossroads International is a unique music program which empowers young people aged between 15 and 25 in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia, with musical opportunities and exposure, in addition to training in music and life skills. Working with local partners in each country, the organization hosts more than 40 annual music festivals, supports international band tours for musicians and provides trainings on music rights awareness, social interaction, as well as gender and H.I.V. awareness.
One of the biggest events for the organization is the InterRegional Festival and the 2009 winner was a band out of Zambia called Nyali ("light" in the Bemba language). This seven-member band combines musical traditions from throughout Zambia's nine provinces with contemporary rhythms to create a unique and beautiful. I really hope that we all able to watch this group grow and develop over the years to come!
To hear the full versions of the songs in the video, check out Nyali's website. I particularly love the songs Mugoregyeni and Vilimba Vili Muragazi.