The Zawose Queens announce tour and share ‘Mapendo’ from forthcoming album Maisha

The Zawose Queens, from the city of Bagamoyo in Tanzania, East Africa, have announced details of a tour of the UK and Europe this summer in support of their forthcoming debut album Maisha. The album is a long-awaited first release by female members of one of Tanzania’s most famous musical families. They have also shared a second single from the album, ‘Mapendo’.

The Zawose Queens’ summer tour will see them perform at a number of UK festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, Africa Oyé and Tropical Pressure, alongside other venues and festivals in Europe. They will be joined by musical collaborators and co-producers of their album, Tom Excell (Nubiyan Twist, Onipa), and Oli Barton-Wood (Jordan Rakei, Obongjayar, Nilufer Yanya).

In contrast to the airy, uplifting debut ‘Maisha’, new single ‘Mapendo’ is darker, weightier, and a reconstruction of drum ideas cherry-picked from a long creative jam, and treated with modular synth and dub-influenced space echo. Lyrically, ‘Mapendo’ is a simple love song —You are my love / Wherever you go, you bloom / Anywhere, you bloom— made special by the hypnotic harmonies of the singers, Pendo and Leah Zawose.


Pendo and Leah Zawose showcase the fluid polyrhythms and rapturous polyphonic singing of the Gogo (aka Wagogo) people of the arid, hilly Dodoma region of central Tanzania. The most famous exponent of this musical tradition is the late, great Dr. Hukwe Zawose (Pendo’s father and Leah’s grandfather).

The Zawose Queens. Photo credit: Michael Mbwambo.

Maisha, the debut album by The Zawose Queens, marks the first time that women from this famous musical family take their place as lead vocalists and performers. Emboldened by workshops in songwriting and music production with visiting UK-based producers Oli Barton-Wood and Tom Excell The Zawose Queens began writing their first ever songs. The resulting collection of songs range from the stripped back and traditional-sounding to those treated with subtle electronic elements, with beats and drops and found sounds and switch-ups.

The album will be released by Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records, the label on which the late Hukwe Zawose released a number of recordings in the 1990s. Hukwe performed at numerous WOMAD festivals and toured with the organization around the world, as well as supporting Peter Gabriel on his Growing Up tour in 2002. The Zawose Queens will follow in their father and grandfather’s footsteps by performing at WOMAD this July in Wiltshire.

Tour dates

22 JUN BRIGHTON Africa Night Fever
23 JUN LIVERPOOL Africa Oyé Festival
29 JUN PILTON Glastonbury Festival, Croissant Neuf Stage
30 JUN PILTON Glastonbury Festival, Greenpeace Stage
02 JUL LAUSANNE Festival de la Cité
05 JUL BRISTOL Wake The Tiger
06 JUL GOTHENBERG Clandestino Festival
07 JUL MALMÖ Sommarscen Malmö Festival
13 JUL CORNWALL Tropical Pressure
16 JUL LONDON Woodburner, Dalston Curve Garden
19 JUL DANZIG Globaltica
27 JUL THISTED Alive Festival
03 AUG COPENHAGEN Badesøen Festival

The album Maisha will be released on CD, LP and digitally on 7 June 2024. ‘Mapendo’ and the title track are now available on all digital platforms.

Featured release

  • Maisha

    The Zawose Queens

    Released 07 June 2024

    The Zawose Queens are Leah and Pendo Zawose of the Tanzanian Wagogo people, whose joyous otherworldly vocals and polyphonic rhythms on drums, thumb pianos and chizeze fiddle mirror the sounds of nature. The grand-daughter and daughter of the late, great Hukwe Zawose, like all the women in the Zawose family, they were once forbidden from the spotlight. Aided by producers Oli Barton-Wood and Tom Excell, this is a stunning debut of eleven original songs that deftly blend the acoustic, electronic, traditional and modern.

By Online Editor

Main image: Pendo & Leah Zawose. Photo credit: Michael Mbwambo.

Published on Mon, 13 May 24

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