Unique band from Zimbabwe plays at RAG Jan. 31

In one of the most exciting events ever presented at The Roxbury Arts Group, the first-ever U.S. tour of an afro-fusion group from Zimbabwe called Liyana, made up of eight band members ranging in age from 17-23, will perform at RAG on Saturday, Jan. 31.
The program will begin at 2 p.m. with an exhibit and sale of dolls and toys made by Zimbabwe orphans, in a project begun by Dennis Ghaboury, a Roxbury resident. From 2:30 to 3 p.m. there will be welcome cocktails and snacks; at 3 p.m. a screening of a trailer for the documentary “I Themba: My Hope,” made by local residents Roger Willimas and Elinor Burkett that has just been picked up by HBO for distribution; the band will perform from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. followed by a meet and greet catered reception. Admission is $20 and reservations can be made by calling 607 326-7908.
What makes Liyana extraordinary, besides their remarkable talent, is that each of them was born with severe physical disabilities. Many are orphans. All self-taught musicians, they met as students at King George VI (KGVI) school in Zimbabwe, where disabled children are thought to bring shame and ill fortune upon their families, are often marginalized, and even left to die. At KGVI, their mentor, Inez Hussey shared a vision for the transformative role music can play in building self confidence and personal power. With her support, what started as a small classroom project to work with friends to write a song, has now become a world-class performing group. Liyana’s lead singer, Prudence, believes that early musical experiences set them on a course to “Do Something Amazing” with their lives.
Hussey says, “For Liyana going to the U.S.A. was the ultimate destination. As they see it its where everything happens, it’s the height of recognition. So many people have made promises to the band over the years and the fact that this promise was kept is very important - it restores their faith not just in themselves but in other people. They all have personal hopes for the tour but even if their ultimate dreams don’t come true, to be able to say that they toured the states - that is an achievement!”
Liyana are in Los Angeles right now performing at Disneyland, the NAMM show, the House of Blues and are working with many celebrities including Sheila E and The Black Eyed Peas’ Foundation (www.peapodfoundation.org).