Haruna Walusimbi is a Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and dancer from Uganda. He is one of Uganda’s most celebrated artists, with extensive performance and teaching experience. Mark Stone is an acclaimed multi-percussionist and music educator from the United States. He was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at Makerere University in Uganda and is currently Associate Professor of World Music and Percussion at Oakland University in the U.S. (Please see complete bios below.) Walusimbi and Stone have performed together since 1997, presenting moving concerts and enlightening educational programs featuring ngoma repertoire of Uganda and new music rooted within the ngoma tradition. As an expert dancer, singer, and performer of the endingidi fiddle, akogo kalimba, enkwanzi panpipes, embaire marimba, ntongooli harp, ebigwala trumpet, and many types of drums, Haruna Walusimbi truly embodies the holistic nature of traditional East African music. Mark Stone’s extensive background as a composer and performer of multiple African and American percussion instruments including the new array mbira brings a contemporary global dimension to the duo’s performances. Walusimbi and Stone have performed and taught together at concert venues and universities throughout the United States and East Africa.
Walusimbi and Stone will be taking part in Education Africa’s International Marimba and Steelpan Festival, the largest marimba festival in the world, in Johannesburg, South Africa at the end of July 2017. Together they will serve as international adjudicators for the event, and also present festival performances/workshops. The duo is available for additional engagements in South Africa during the week prior to the festival (July 24 – 28) and during the week after the festival (July 31 – August 4). To book a performance, workshop, or lecture-demonstration with Walusimbi and Stone, please contact Joan Lithgow (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Traditional Basoga composition “Twalibamukwano” performed by Stone on the array mbira with Walusimbi on the endingidi fiddle and kisoga drums.
Haruna Walusimbi’s original composition “Atenga Omwana” sung by Walusimbi, with Stone and Walusimbi on the akogo kalimba and Stone on the gyil xylophone.
Mark Stone’s original composition “Kakaire”, featuring Stone playing the akogo and Walusimbi playing the endingidi.
Born in 1965 in the village of Lwanika in Uganda, Haruna Walusimbi grew up surrounded by rural traditional music. At a very young age, Walusimbi began participating in the diverse music traditions that thrived in his Busoga village. He went on to join the St. James Secondary School music program, one of the best in the region. Walusimbi then studied music, dance and drama at Makerere University, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the Arts. In 1997, he was the Global Youth Earth Day Ambassador for Africa and won the Global Youth Earth Day Ambassadors Competition in Marikina, Philippines.
Upon graduating from Makerere University, Walusimbi founded Nile Beat Artists, a Jinja-based performing arts troupe. Nile Beat is now recognized as one of the top groups in Uganda, regularly performing at state functions and for visiting dignitaries. This past year, they were honored to perform for Pope Francis during his visit to Uganda.
In 2005, Walusimbi created theSenator National Cultural Festival. The festival has grown to become the largest annual cultural event in Uganda; lasting six months, with tours to 121 rural towns each year and involving more than 320 folk music and dance troupes. Among its many accomplishments, the festival recently revived the ebigwala (gourd trumpets) music and dance of the Busoga Kingdom together with UNESCO, which inscribed ebigwala on their list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. The Senator National Cultural Festival successfully restored this tradition and ebigwala has since been performed for the Kyabazinga (King of Busoga), during his second coronation celebrations.
In addition to his many accomplishments in Uganda, Haruna Walusimbi has achieved international renown as an educator, musician, and actor. He performed a leading role in the film Throw Down Your Heart, produced by American banjo icon Bela Fleck. Walusimbi subsequently recorded with Mr. Fleck on the album Throw Down Your Heart: Tales from the Acoustic Planet Vol. 3: Africa Sessions, which won a Grammy Award in 2010 for Best Contemporary World Music Album and Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Walusimbi also had a role in the Academy Award-winning film The Last King of Scotland, starring Forest Whitaker.
World multi-percussionist Mark Stone has performed with the foremost musicians of Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, India, Trinidad, Ecuador, and the United States. An accomplished composer and improviser, Stone writes regularly for his many projects and commissions. His musical style results from a unique synthesis of multiple world traditions and innovation rooted in a deep knowledge of those traditions. Stone was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at Makerere University, where he researched traditional Ugandan music and performed regularly with the Nakibembe Xylophone Group. As a member of the Bernard Woma Ensemble, he has performed at festivals in Ghana and gyil concerti with the leading orchestras of Germany, South Africa, and the United States.
In 2012 and 2014, Stone toured India as a featured artist at the Bharat Sangeet Utsav Pan-Indian Music Festivals, collaborating with many preeminent Carnatic musicians. In 2015, he was a clinician and adjudicator at Education Africa’s 4th International Marimba and Steel Pan Festival in Johanesburg, South Africa and this past summer Stone was a featured clinician and performer for the Quito International Percussion Festival in Ecuador.
Inspired by his extensive travels, performances, and studies, Stone recently launched the Mark Stone Trio. The trio performs new music drawing on Stone’s wide-ranging compositional influences, stretching from American jazz to traditional African music and classical Indian music to European concert music. The group has been featured at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and the annual International Society of Improvising Musicians conference, in addition to numerous universities, festivals, and concert venues.
As co-founder and partner of Jumbie Records, Stone has produced and recorded twelve albums. Through Jumbie Records, he has sponsored annual music festivals in Ghana and Uganda, and produced many world music festivals in New York and Detroit. Stone is an Associate Professor at Oakland University where he coordinates the world music and percussion programs, while teaching courses in ethnomusicology and international studies. His research on Ugandan music has been published in African Music, the Journal of the International Library of African Music in South Africa.