April 16

Mokoomba is one the most exciting bands to come out of Africa in the 21st century. This explosively talented six-man crew from northern Zimbabwe has toured over 40 countries on five continents, and performed at the world’s most prestigious international festivals and venues, including New York’s Apollo Theater, the UK’s WOMAD Festival, and many others. Zimbabwe’s best-known musical icons, Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudkzi, exemplify the culture of the country’s Shona majority. But Mokoomba’s music is rooted in the Tonga, Luvale and Nyanja rhythms and melodies from Victoria Falls, where these six grew up together, friends since childhood. Mokoomba’s signature sound is a mix of indigenous elements—including stirring songs from boys’ initiation ceremonies—and influences from modern regional styles, such as Congolese soukous and South African vocal polyphony. Their two albums—the fiercely electric Rising Tide (2012) and more acoustic and rootsy Luyando (2017)—have garnered universal acclaim. But nothing compares to the band’s kinetic, choreographed stage show, centered on mesmerizing lead singer Mathias Muzaza. Mathis can coo and croon, growl like a dancehall braggadocio, toss in a little falsetto and vibrato or soar into his full-throated, leathery smooth tenor reminiscent of Salif Keita, in a West African griot’s wail.