The music of Zimbabwe's women mbira players


Ambuya: Zimbabwe’s Women Mbira Musicians is a collaboration between American ethnomusicologist Jennifer Kyker and members of the Zimbabwean women’s musical collective Mhare DzeNhare, or "Experts of the Mbira." Through recordings, photographs, transcriptions and translations of song lyrics, and biographical information, Ambuya highlights the work of Zimbabwe’s women mbira musicians. Conceived of as a digital album, Ambuya presents an innovative online music format that encourages listeners to engage with complex digital musical objects, extending the possibilities for online music production beyond conventional streaming platforms.

Jennifer Kyker

Jennifer Kyker began playing Zimbabwean music in 1990 and is currently Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Rochester. Jennifer began working with the members of Mhare dzeNhare in 2019, and built the digital project Ambuya: Zimbabwe’s Women Mbira in 2023 with support from a Ferrari Humanities Fellowship and Digital Scholarship at the University of Rochester.

Jennifer’s previous project, Sekuru’s Stories, was a born-digital public humanities project presenting the musical life of the renowned Zimbabwean mbira dzavadzimu player, oral historian, and ritual specialist Sekuru Tute Chigamba. Jennifer’s research has been supported by fellowships from the Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays programs, and from the American Council for Learned Societies. Jennifer also founded the nonprofit organization Tariro, which educates teenaged girls in Zimbabwean communities affected by HIV/AIDS.