Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series guest Joyce Jenje Makwenda speaks with Christopher Porter in an interview for the Ann Arbor District Library’s arts blog, Pulp.
It’s approximately 8,000 miles from Harare, Zimbabwe, to Detroit, Michigan. But music and culture scholar Joyce Jenje Makwenda feels like Motown’s daughter.
“Motown raised me,” she said. “I’m a child of Motown music.”
Makwenda owns one of Zimbabwe’s largest archives of music-related documents, from newspapers and photos to vinyl records and instruments. The Joyce Jenje Makwenda Collection Archives allows scholars to research the rich history of Zimbabwean music, from folk music played on the mbira (thumb piano) and the township jazz that dominated much of the mid-20th century, to the modern protest sounds of Thomas Mapfumo’s chimurenga music.
She’s also the 2017 Zimbabwe Cultural Centre of Detroit research resident — in partnership with U‑M’s Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series and Harare’s Njelele Art Station — which is why she’s in Michigan this summer investigating the influence of Motown music on her home country.
Makwenda will discuss her research with EMU’s Dr. Melvin Peters on Thursday, June 22, at 6 pm at Cultivate Coffee & Tap House, 307 N. River St., Ypsilanti.