YourClassical MPR Class Notes for the 2021-2022 Season

On September 16, 2021 the preview of our duo’s edition of Class Notes with MPR made its debut. I have been collaborating with the wonderful Mikaela Marget as a duo called Heliopsis over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating improvisational works featuring Timbila, Mbira, and Cello.

When choosing a duo name, Mikaela Marget and Nyttu Chongo wanted something that reflected joy and light. They settled on Heliopsis, the scientific name for Sunflower, which captures the forward moving energy of the ensemble.

Heliopsis plays original music for various traditional instruments from Sub-Saharan Africa, cello, and voice. Their music ranges from raucous and dance-like to serene and peaceful. Each tune has an element of improvisation, so no two performances are the same.

Heliopsis is a 2021-2022 MPR Class Notes participating ensemble.

I invite you to listen and watch our latest lesson here.

Thank you to all who supported the LIBANDZUWA CD release

The CD release celebration on 6/30/2021 was a special day for me–thank you to the 45 individuals who stopped by to listen to my album and celebrate life together.  It was such a joyful day, and I was honored to have each of you there.  A special thanks to the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley, Minnesota for hosting, and to Ifrah Mansour for hosting the Q/A and artist interview after the listening session. Thank you as well to Doug Ohlsen for providing sound equipment to hear the album, and of course to the Minnesota State Arts Board and the National Foundation for the Arts for making this work possible.
I would like to share a few photos from the evening.  Please take a look, and don’t forget to take another listen to LIBANDZUWA on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, or anywhere else you get your music today.  You can purchase an album on my website shop for a total of $11 (including tax and the fees for card transactions) or directly from me at any of my shows for $10 in cash.
“Libandzuwa” means “the power of the sun” in a language from Mozambique. I hope you are all able to bask in the healing power of the sun this summer as our world begins to exit such a challenging chapter.
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About LIBANDZUWA, My Album Being Released Next Wednesday

This album is highly personal. It lifts up the joys and anguish of being an artist and musician in a world that values productivity. It is both a celebration of life and a cry for help, it is both a prayer for peace and a call for justice. I believe that I was called to use music to heal and bring people together. With this album, I hope to deliver the will of my ancestors and bring peace, joy, and healing to others.
The overarching theme of this body of work is a calling back home. The mbira is a spiritual instrument that is capable of calling lost souls back to their ancestral roots. I believe that I am not the creator of this music, instead it comes to me from the spiritual world. These are the sounds of the universe. Some of these songs come to me in dreams. The artists that collaborated on this album were selected song by song not only by my ancestors, but theirs as well. Their contributions carry meaning and show the power of the spirits that connect us to each other.
“Libandzuwa” means “the power of the sun” in a language from Mozambique.  It is also the name that I gave to my son, who was born just at the start of this musical journey. He is now approaching two years old, and seems to embody the joy, light, and energy of the very sun itself.  The title track on this album is a love song to my son. The lyrics of the first verse are translated:

Quando você nasceu, eu me renascí.                      When you were born, I was reborn.

Quando voce riu, eu chorei.                                      When you laughed, I cried.

Quando voce sorriu                                                     When you smiled,

Nivonile mashory.                                                         I saw miracles.

Quando voce chorou,                                                  When you cried,

Aprendi nova canção.                                                  I learned a new song.

I hope you can join us celebrating the release of this album on 6/30/2021 at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Fridley, MN.
Listen to a sample of the song “Libandzuwa” on my HearNow page, or see where you can download or stream it.

Nyttu Chongo – Xipendane, Vocals  //  Carlos Cartys – Pan Pipe Flute, Quenacho  //  Matt Grosso – Electronic Drum Kit

World Refugee Day 2021

Today was a beautiful celebration of resilience and culture at CAPI’s Twin Cities World Refugee Day, held virtually this year.  I was honored to be able to perform several pieces for the celebration, marking my fourth year participating in this special festival. This was the first recurring event that I was invited to perform at upon moving to Minnesota and I am always energized by the people that come together to celebrate on this day.
The first track on my forthcoming album, Libandzuwa, speaks about immigrants, refugees, and other travelers.  “Fly” speaks to the fact that we are all migratory creatures, who for various reasons travel to different places over our lifetimes. In these modern times, we may call these travelers “immigrants,” “refugees,” and “displaced people,” but what I believe to be true is that there is a calling for all travelers, whether their ancestors came against their will as slaves, or if they came by choice to conquer the land. Our roots call us to the lands of our ancestors so that our souls can rest in peace, fertilizing opportunity for future generations.
Listen to a sample of the song “Fly” on my HearNow page, or see where you can download or stream it.
(Nyttu Chongo – Mbira Dzava Dzimu, Vocals // Lucas Trigueiro – Kora // Fabian – Saxophone)

Minneapolis International Festival 2021

What a joy to be a part of the first virtual Minneapolis International Festival hosted by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.  This event is usually one held in person in the beautiful parks of our city, but due to COVID-19 we moved the platform to a virtual environment.  Nearly 300 people have streamed my performance from the second night of the festival, March 19th.  In all, the festival was made up of 18 days of music, arts, and culture form March 18-30th.  I hope you were able to tune into a couple of the acts. Some may be available for viewing on the Minneapolis Park Board website.  See you all next year!

Farewell to 2020

This has been…a remarkable year, to put it lightly.  I regret my silence here on my blog, because it has been an eventful year for me in many ways.  I have been busy recording my first album, Libandzuwa: The Power of the Sun, which has been delayed slightly but is set for release mid-year next year.  I have relocated from the East side of the metro to the West, have met many incredible musicians (virtually), and had the privilege of performing in several virtual performances for the City of Minneapolis, foundations, and international venues.  I feel blessed to have been able to continue to grow my artistic roots here in Minnesota in this challenging year, even though I have not been able to perform in person or join in the annual events I have historically participated in.
My final performance of 2020 will be this coming Tuesday, December 29th for Thrivent Financial and Minnesota Music Coalition.  I will be performing in the 5-6pm slot of their “Farewell to 2020 Party.” It is free and open to the public, so I hope you tune in.  There will be many artists performing in 10-15 minute slots, so it is bound to be a good time.
I wish you all health, peace, and hope in the new year. See you in 2021.
Link to Thrivent Tuesdays: Farewell to 2020 Party! 

5pm-6pm Performance

REFLECTIONS ON THE Residency in Urbana-Champaign

Through the support of the Center for World Music at the University of Illinois and the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, I spent the end of January in Urbana-Champaign performing at the Global Roots Festival, the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, and the University of Illinois. It was an amazing experience to share the music of Mozambique with a community so eager to learn and get out of their chairs to dance. I’ve shared a few pictures and videos from the events of the week below. I will add more in a couple of weeks.

Workshop given at the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures

Residency in Urbana-Champaign

Through the support of the Center for World Music at the University of Illinois and the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, I will be performing a series of workshops and shows in Urbana-Champaign from January 29th through February 1st. I am pleased to be able to participate in this residency and share my music with the community of Illinois. You can find information about my series of performances on my calendar, or read more on the University of Illinois website.

See more about my performances for the public at this link:

Recipient of the MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, 2020

I am proud to share that I have received the honor of being named a 2020 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grantee. The Artist Initiative grant program is designed to support and assist professional Minnesota artists at various stages in their careers by encouraging artistic development, nurturing artistic creativity, and recognizing the contributions of individual artists to the creative environment of the state of Minnesota. Grants are awarded for projects that will enhance or expand artistic skills or process, and advance an artist’s career by helping them generate greater visibility with and exposure to potential audiences. With this grant, I will produce my first album titled Libandzuwa: The Power of the Sun and establish several performances and workshops with the public.

As a fiscal year 2020 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, many of this year’s activities are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. You can read more about the Artist Initiative program and other 2020 recipients here: