Award-winning singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer Albino Mbie brings effervescent Afro-pop / Moz-jazz to our stage on Saturday, November 21! This International Songwriting Competition winner took a minute to chat with us about his musical beginnings, inspirations, and plans for the not-so-distant future.
What and who are your musical influences?
My music influences range from Africa to the world in general — especially traditional Mozambican music, folk music such as marrabenta, and timbila music. I hear people who touch my heart every day. But when I hear Lokua Kanza, when I hear Richard Bona, or when I hear Salif Keita, my heart dances from joy.
You built your first guitar at age 16 from objects that were available to you. Tell us about that.
My friends in Mozambique and I were so in love with music, and we wanted to find a way to have an instrument. Unfortunately it was not something that was available to us.
I think the fact that I approached the instrument from a craftsman’s view made me gain so much respect for it, and anytime I would hold it, it would have so much meaning to me. From how it resonates, how it speaks to me, how I should touch it, how I connect to it — with respect –- and the message I want to bring out from it. Having the chance to build my first instrument gave me a clear reason to choose music.
What was it like to come to Boston to study at Berklee?
Coming to Boston was a huge challenge – but beyond the challenge was a huge opportunity – I couldn’t have asked for anything more in my life. Coming to Berklee meant expanding my vision. I felt that I was looking at the world through a very small little window, and being at Berklee gave me a chance to look at it from a different perspective. It made my goals and my understanding of music and its meaning expand beyond what I thought it was. And I’m very grateful for the chance that I had to be part of Berklee’s first African Scholars Program. I hope this opportunity will expand to others – and I hope to be able to contribute so that others can have this life-changing opportunity.
As a songwriter, you have earned some major awards, including first place in the Global Music category of the International Songwriting Competition. How do you hope to connect with listeners through your songs?
I would like them to understand my music through the way it makes them feel. I don’t think they have to understand my songs according to my perspective – I would like to bring freedom of interpretation to my art. In my music I talk about so many themes and situations that we all would like to talk about — and at the end of the day I would like my music to bring a positive change in people’s lives.
Who are you listening to these days?
Currently I’m listening to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane — analyzing some of their approaches to music, and taking those concepts into my roots -– because, logically, if Charlie Parker or John Coltrane were Mozambican, there would be a completely different understanding of rhythm and melody. So I’m taking those concepts into my music. And, as you all know, there is nothing better than expanding your ears — being able to hear things that you were not able to hear before — because that’s going to help you to expand your music and your understanding of harmony, rhythm, and songwriting, and so many other aspects.
What projects are you working on now?
I am now working on my third album, which has been a huge challenge because my first album was the consequence of being at Berklee, the second was after leaving Berklee, and this I feel is another milestone in my career and life. It’s a new approach to where I would like to take my music, from expanding my fan base and the audience that I would like to bring along, to the vision and all the prospects. So I’m very much excited about my third album. And simultaneously, because we are going through this pandemic, I’ve been thinking about recording solo albums with songs from my previous two albums – Mozambican Dance, and Mafu.
Watch Albino Mbie in a special solo livestream concert from Blackman Hall on Saturday, November 21 at 8pm! Tickets start at $10.
FREE for Indian Hill Music School students! (Email firstname.lastname@example.org for student tickets.)
Our Live from Indian Hill livestream concert series is sponsored by: