Rutendo Machiridza poised to join the elite but . . .


SINGER and mbira player Rutendo Machiridza (23) got a part-scholarship to study for a four-year bachelor’s degree in music performance majoring in voice and music business, starting in September, when she successfully auditioned for a place at the elite Berkelee College of Music in Boston, Massachussetts in the United States.

Report by Own Correspondent

Competition to enter Berklee is stiff. Total enrolment for the 2010–2011 academic year was 4 270 students from all over the world, while the acceptance rate for the 2012 fall (autumn) semester was 15%.

While she has cleared the hurdle of being accepted into the prestigious school, Rutendo needs help. Her scholarship is $47 000 shy of the $65 000 she needs for the academic year starting September.

“I have to raise the balance,” she says.

She is, therefore, appealing for funds and has set up a gofundme website where well-wishers can donate: or into her Standard Chartered account number 87-505-060537-00. For Rutendo, going to Berklee would be the culmination of the dream of a lifetime.

“I knew from childhood that I wanted to sing for a living,” she says.

The Dominican Convent former student, a self-taught singer, describes herself as “a first generation musician” as there are no musicians in her family.

She started off playing the piano at 10, but she got hooked when she was introduced to the mbira at 13. Although she excelled academically — she passed her “A” Levels with flying colours — that did not distract her.

With her band Savannah Afros she won the 2012 national competition finals for Music Crossroads, the international initiative that nurtures young musical prospects.

It was during the resultant tour in Europe that Rutendo heard about Berklee. “I came across Ugandan musician Andrew Kagumba who is on a scholarship at Berklee and he told me about the school.”

She applied online and was asked to attend the audition in Cape Town.

“I had to leave the tour in Germany for the April 2nd audition.”

Rutendo is determined to take her place along musical luminaries such as Quincey Jones, Al di Meola, Melissa Etheridge, Juan Luis Guerra, Bruce Hornsby, the beautiful Espéranza Spalding and other famous musicians who are all alumni of Berklee.