For over 15 years, Sarah, otherwise known as “Sarahfina,” has been deeply involved with African oral traditions including: Shona mbira (thumb piano), Southern African marimba (xylophone) and percussion, as well as South African gumboot dance, and traditional dance and vocals from across the African continent. At once a performer, teacher and recording artist, her imaginative impulses have lead to her colourful traditional-modern innovations. Sarah aims to share her passion and skills especially with youth and their communities to foster cross-cultural understanding and contribute to peace-building locally and globally.
Sarah has been teaching Southern African marimba music on and off since 2002. Her innovative and dynamic approach incorporates a variety of other cultural elements including percussion, vocals and dance. In 2008, Sarah received her official African Marimba Teacher training and accreditation from South Africa’s reknown amaAmbush.
Marimba and Gumboot Dance Teacher – Errington World Music Youth Camp (Errington, B.C. Canada, 2013-2016); Teaching Southern African marimba and gumboot dance to approx. 25 children aged 8-14 years. The camp culminates in a community show where children perform the songs and dances they learned.
Gumboot Dance Teacher – School District #74 (Lillooet & Lytton, B.C. Canada, 2015); Teaching the history and basics of South African gumboot dance as well as choreography to students K-7 at Cayoosh, George Murray and Lytton Elementary schools and leading students in performing for their schools.
Gumboot Dance Performer/Choreographer – Dare 2 Dance Festival, Rainer Arts Centre, Seattle, USA, June 2016
Marimba Teacher & Band Leader – WA CHESA Community Marimba Ensemble, Britannia Community Centre (Vancouver, B.C. Canada, 2014): Teaching African marimba, dance and vocals to adults. Inaugural performance at Astorino’s hall on December 7, 2014.
Gumboot Dance Workshop Facilitator – Seattle World Rhythm Festival (Seattle, USA, 2014): Teaching South African gumboot dance to adults and youth. Performed with students on the festival’s “flash” stage.
Gumboot Dance Workshop Facilitator – Cederberg Tea House (Seattle, USA, 2014): Teaching gumboot dance to adults and youth at a South African tea house’s one year anniversary celebration. Performed as part of the trio “Girlz in Gumbootz.”
Marimba Teacher & Marimba/Mbira Performer – Collège Éducacentre College (Vancouver, B.C. Canada, 2014): Teaching African marimba (en français!) to youth as part of a Black History Month music creation and song recording project. Performed marimba and mbira as part of the recording “Fara Fede O”. Spoke about the project live on Radio Canada.
Marimba Teacher (substitute) – Britannia Community Centre (Vancouver, B.C. Canada, 2014): Teaching South African marimba to 15 children aged 6-8 years.
South African Marimba & Dance Teacher – Nhemamusasa North marimba/mbira camp (O.U.R. Ecovillage, Shawnigan Lake, B.C. Canada, 2013); Teaching South African marimba and dance to adults and youth.
Gumboot Dance Workshop Facilitator – Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House (Vancouver, B.C. Canada, 2012) – Taught South African gumboot dance as part of a family drop-in workshop.
African Music Teacher – Forres Pre-Preparatory School (Cape Town, South Africa, 2005); Teaching Shona marimba & mbira, West African djembe, African dance & vocals to grades 1 – 7 (*not all grades learned all art forms).
Gumboot Dance & Marimba – Michael Oak Waldorf School (Cape Town, South Africa, 2005); Teaching a group of parents gumboot dance and Shona marimba in a workshop.
Marimba Group Lessons’ Teacher – Wooden Vibrations ensemble (Portland, USA, 2004/8); Teaching a marimba group Shona marimba & hosho, plus original vocals.
Youth Djembe Workshop Asst. Facilitator – The Cape Town Youth Festival / Ku’du Drum Company (Cape Town, South Africa, 2006); Asst. facilitating youth djembe drumming & performances workshops.
African Dance Teacher – Dominican School for the Deaf/Ku’du Drum Company, Cape Town, South Africa 2006; Teaching a fusion of dances styles from across Africa in a training-of-trainers workshop.
Gumboot Dance Teacher – Circles of Care/The Joy Youth Club, QwaQwa, South Africa, 2003; Teaching gumboot dance to a children’s cultural group.
Marimba Group Lessons’ Co-Facilitator – Strathcona Community Centre, Vancouver, Canada, 2002/3; Co-facilitating a group of adults in learning, rehearsing & performing marimba, hosho & vocals.
Gumboot Dance Teacher – Afro-Canadian Adoption Network/Rainbow Camp, Squamish, Canada, 2002; Teaching gumboot dance to adults and children in a workshop.
Youth Marimba Teaching Assistant -Strathcona Community Centre/Kids’ Dragon Band, Vancouver, Canada, 2002; Asst. teaching a youth marimba band in Shona marimba, hosho & vocals.
PERFORMANCES – ENSEMBLES
Bloco Energia (Vancouver, Canada, 2013-ongoing): Performing tambourim as part of a high-energy Brazillian samba ensemble. Shows: FIFA Womens’ World Cup FanZone 2015, Make Music Vancouver, Latin Summer Festival, Lumiere Festival, Light Water Drum Festival, PopUp Dances at Winterruption Festival, The Backstage Lounge, the Portside Pub, the FanClub, Queen’s Park Canada Day celebration, Secret Lantern Society Winter Solstice Festival, Davie Street Pride Block Party, China Cloud, Parade of the Lost Souls.
Nsansa (Vancouver, Canada, 2011-2013): Performing modern/traditional innovations on mbira, marimba, percussion and vocals as part of an African/Latin/Folk Trio. Shows: Cafe D’Afrique, The Backstage Lounge, Ten Thousand Villages Kitsilano Store, Ten Thousand Villages West End Store (Car Free Day Festival), Kitsilano Neighbourhood House family day, Neighbourhood Small Grants event.
The Drum Café (Vancouver, Canada, 2007): Performing bass drum as part of a South African percussion ensemble, as a tool for team-building. Shows: Nelson Mandela Children’s Foundation Benefit Concert, Treasury Management Conference, Cambie Secondary School.
Siyavusa (Cape Town, South Africa, 2004): Composing and performing original mbira as part of an eclectic 9-piece Afro-fusion band. Shows: The Armchair Theatre, Obz Café, The Acoustic Cafe.
Simukai (Vancouver, Canada, 2001-3 & Cape Town, South Africa, 2005): Composing, arranging and performing traditional and original mbira, marimba, djembe drum, vocals and dance as part of a trio playing traditional & contemporary Southern African music. Shows: Obzfest, World Music Showcase, Oxfam Canada Benefit, Public Dreams’ Society’s First Night Festival 2002 & West Van Lantern Festival 2001, Afro-Canadian Adoption Network 2002, British Columbia Institute of Technology 2003, Musical Roots Performance Series.
Shangara Marimba (Vancouver, Canada, 1999-2001): Performing traditional marimba, mbira, hosho, djembe drum, vocals and gumboot dance as part of a 9-piece band playing traditional Zimbabwean marimba music. Shows: Oxfam Canada Benefit, Strathcona Artists at Home Festival, Public Dreams’ Society Lantern Festival, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, The Web Café.
PERFORMANCES – SESSIONAL (Highlights)
Ladji Kante (Nouakchott, Mauritania, 2007): Performed djembe accompaniment as part of a traditional West African percussion ensemble. Show: Malian Presidential Election Campaign.
Abazali Nice Try (Cape Town, South Africa, 2005): Performed hosho, djembe, gumboot dance and marimba to support a 9-piece Zimbabwean marimba band. Shows: EarthWaterFireAir Festival, Obzfest, The Novalis Institute.
Felix Laband (Cape Town, South Africa, 2005): Performed experimental vocals with inter-disciplinary, electronica sensation’s sold-out show at The Theatre Royal.
Ayatola Douze Balles (Cape Town, South Africa, 2004): Performed popular Congolese dance as part of a show with Congolese dance master at The African Junction.
AFRICAN MUSIC EDUCATION:
- Nhemamusasa North marimba/mbira camp 2013 (Shawnigan Lake, Canada)
- amaAmbush Marimba Teacher Training 2008 (Cape Town, South Africa)
- Zimbabwean Music Festival 1998 (Victoria, Canada), 2004/2010 (Portland, USA) & 2014 (Tacoma, USA)
- Camp Tumbuka 2001 (New Mexico, USA)
- The World Rhythm Festival 1998, 2000-3, 2011-14 (Seattle, USA)
- The Academy of African Music 2001 (Vancouver, Canada)
- Private lessons with: Zimbabwean mbira master, Ephat Mujuru (1999, Cape Town, South Africa & Harare, Zimbabwe), John Mambira (2015), Kurai Mubaiwa (2011, Vancouver), West African djembe master, Ladji Kante (2007, Mauritania), Dingiswayo Juma (2005, Cape Town), Kyte Gertrardis (2004, Portland, USA), Farai Gezai (2000, Vancouver), Garadziva Chigamba (2000, Vancouver), Paul Mataruse (2000, Vancouver), Charles Kokanai Mzite (2000, Vancouver), Tedd Judd (1999, Vancouver), The Pearl of Africa (1999, Kamuzinda, Uganda), Circles of Care (2003, QwaQwa, South Africa), Ayatola Douze Balles (2004, Cape Town).
- Individual marimba (1997, Victoria, Canada)
- Ensemble of 7 marimbas, working as part of a team (2002, Vancouver, Canada)
- Assisted with ensemble of 7 marimbas, working as part of a team (2004/6, Cape Town, RSA)
- Collège Éducacentre College’s “Fara Fede O” (2014, Vancouver, Canada) single resulting from Black History Month youth music creation project. Credits: mbira & marimba.
- Simukai’s debut album, “The Bottom Line” (2002, Vancouver, Canada). Credits: mbira, marimba, djembe, vocals, lyrics.
- Prince Alfredo I’s debut album, “First Born” (2004, Cape Town, South Africa). Credits: mbira.