Jeremy Danneman, the American Jazz Musician, has unveiled an album that features Sophie Nzayisenga, a Rwandan woman who earned fame for playing Inanga (trough-zither), a local music instrument. Jeremy is mainly a Jazz musician but plays many other different styles.
Speaking to IGIHE, Jeremy said he met with Nzayisenga back in 2009 when the American was visiting Rwanda, the same time they started a joint music project.
“I marked my anniversary in 2009 by playing music on the streets of New York where I performed for 11 hours that very day. That is my best performance ever because I entertained people of all kinds,” said Jeremy.
He decided to come to Rwanda in March, 2009 to learn about Genocide against the Tutsi and to perform from Rwanda’s streets.
“I decided to visit Rwanda after reviewing its history especially about the genocide because my grandmother also survived the genocide against Jews (Holocaust). That similar history made me wish to perform from Rwanda’s streets during the 15th commemoration period. During my stay, I performed at schools and on streets. That’s the time I met Sophie and we performed together at Goethe Institute in Kigali,” said Jeremy.
Jeremy said he wanted to take Nzayisenga to USA to play her Inanga but visa issues delayed her until 2015 when she finally landed in the United States.
“We finally realized our target in 2015 to perform together from the USA, then embarked on an album project ‘Honey Wine’ which we unveiled on March 10th, 2017. Yes, there is some Kinyarwanda on the album, both a song called Ibeseke and the title track Honey Wine, which includes Kinyarwanda lyrics,” he said.
During her stay in the USA, the duo performed at different venues as Nzayisenga played Inanga while Jeremy played saxophone.
“When Sophie was in New York, we played at venues called Silvana and the Why Not Jazz Room. We also performed in outdoor markets and a few schools. The experience working with Sophie has been fantastic. We have never really needed to speak the same language, because we have a similar understanding of musical language. She also fit right in with my band,” Jeremy added.
By Munyengabe Murungi Sabin, Jean d’Amour Mugabo