Alumni Spotlight

Alumni Spotlight on Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa '14

What inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I really don't see it that way. I believe that music is what I'm made to do and that my being in the music career was inevitable. But I will say that I enjoy the impact a song can have on someone. That's what keeps me singing everyday. 

Who are the greatest influences on you as a musician?

My great-grandfather was a choral conductor and both sides of my family have been singing, dancing and playing many instruments for over a century. I see myself as a generational product of that.

Growing up my mother played a lot of Whitney Houston in the car so I love Whitney's voice. "Who would Imagine a King" by Whitney was the first public solo I ever sang. I was 3 and it was in church. When I started playing mbira I listened to Chiwoniso Maraire - her voice and playing are definitions of beauty and excellence

Could you describe your most memorable concert experience?

Ah yes. It happened recently, with the Glee Club at Holy Cross Anglican Church in Soweto. It was magic and it was a dream come true. Unforgettable. I can still feel the energy from that night. 

What is your favorite music to play? And to listen to?

It depends on the mood. If Zimbabwe is on my mind (that's where I'm from) I listen to music I sang growing up - Vabvuwi, Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, traditional mbira music will probably be on my playlist If I feel like dancing it's going to be dancehall or a type of South African house music called kwaito (give it a listen, it's some yummy stuff). If I am looking for transcendent, meditational space it's going to be choral music. I have Tavener, Fauré and Johannes Eccard on that playlist amongst others and Gabriel sings on some of the recordings . 

I like to play my music the most (i.e. physically play). I'm a composer and composing is how I process my thoughts and emotions (which I have a LOT of). It can be mbira, piano or singing - whatever I need to process life. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now I am on a flight to Seattle to work with Chimurenga Renaissance, a hip hop group blending African music made up of two phenomenal musicians and MCs, Tendai "Baba" Maraire and Hussein Kolonji. 

Where would you like to be in 10 years' time?

Alive - if I'm still needed this side.

What do you enjoy doing most?


What did your time in the Glee Club teach you? Could you give us a favorite memory?

I love Glee because it brings together the most eclectic bunch of people who just love to sing. I see that as a powerful lesson for living - that what binds us together can be beautiful, moving and impactful.

My favorite Glee Memory is the day I auditioned and got in. #GleekForLife!