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Seattle Hip-Hop Artist Draze Is A Storyteller Born of Two Cultures

Courtesy Draze

In some parts of the world, music isn’t a hobby or even just a form of art -- it’s the stuff that connects the culture. And that’s the environment musician Dumisani Maraire Jr. was raised in.

“I like to say in our family, it’s not like ‘are you going to perform?’ You just are going to perform. Literally, it’s just a part of who we are and what we do,” said Maraire.

Maraire, better known as Draze, was born in Seattle but his roots lead directly to Zimbabwe. His father came from Zimbabwe in 1968, as an artist in residence at the University of Washington. There he taught the music of his native culture, known as Shona.

And the teaching became so popular that two things happened: Seattle became a little hub for Shona music in the United States, and it became a second home for Maraire Senior and his wife, who also taught music.

Then when Draze was 6, his mother sent him and his siblings to live for a while in Zimbabwe, to experience the Shona culture firsthand.  By the time he turned as an adolescent, he was steeped in both cultures -- of Africa, and the Northwest. 

Kevin Kniestedt is a journalist, host and producer who began his career at KNKX in 2003. Over his 17 years with the station, he worked as a full time jazz host, a news host and produced the weekly show Sound Effect. Kevin has conducted or produced hundreds of interviews, has won local and national awards for newscasts and commentary.
Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.