Kina Zoré
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Kina Zoré

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Boston, Massachusetts, United States
World Afropop


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"Afro-pop bands hop continents"

BOSTON - It's a sweaty, early autumn afternoon on Boston's fashionable Newbury Street, and a small crowd has gathered around a group of musicians who are performing a kind of flash-mob concert.

The band is Kina Zoré; the music is a fusion of Mozambican traditional music, Afro-pop, and American jazz; and the crowd is grooving. Bandleader Helder Tsinine runs through a series of arpeggios up and down the neck of his guitar and sings lyrics in his native Ronga tongue, while Noah Teshu and Galen Willett keep rhythm on drums and bass. A Sudanese synthesizer player named Mohamad Araki lays in a hard-rock-sounding solo on top, with a decidedly retro-looking "keytar," while Sean Peters and Conor Jones play horns.

Close your eyes, and you just may find yourself transported to the beaches of Maputo, Mozambique, under swaying palm trees, in front of a vast aqua-colored sea. Open your eyes, and you see ... well, concrete and graffiti, and a great new up-and-coming Afro-pop band.

Mr. Tsinine is not the first African musician to try his luck on American shores, and he won't be the last.

But in a world of new media and changing tastes, where Africans are increasingly intrigued by the American sounds of hip-hop, and where Americans are attracted to the exotic sounds of Mother Africa, Tsinine may be in just the right place at the right time.

"I came here because my wife is from Massachusetts," says Tsinine, after a recent recording session for Kina Zoré's first album. After getting his immigration status sorted out, he enrolled at Boston's Berklee College of Music, and started jamming with fellow students. And in 2010, Kina Zoré was born.

"I identify myself as an African, and so the music I play is African music," Tsinine says. But what is it that gives African traditional music its distinct sound? "The rhythm is very important, the guitars, the drums, and especially the sound of the hand drums."

"Sometimes you just groove," he says. "The way I grew up, you had three or four guitars, each playing their own pattern, but all in rhythm with each other. And then, rather than add new sounds, sometimes you subtract them for a while, and when you add it back in, that becomes all the more sweet."

A changing market

Back home in Mozambique, and indeed across much of Africa, the music that is playing on radio stations is all too often either American hip-hop or a local approximation of the hip-hop and American rhythm-and-blues sound.

One of Nigeria's top artists, 2face Idibia, sings reggae-tinged dance tunes and love songs that would not sound out of place on top British or American charts.

On a July 2011 tour of the United States, South Africa's top singer, Lira – voted South Africa's top female artist in 2010 – sang in local African languages but marketed her sound as soul and R&B, rather than "world music."

Even the Tuareg blues band, Tinariwen, from Mali, tends to make its biggest money by touring in the US and Europe, playing more in rock clubs than at world-music festivals.

"I think Tinariwen has played it so smart. They have created this mystique. They have placed themselves in a really interesting place, playing traditional music but getting out of the world-music label and appealing to young rock-loving hipsters," says Michael Orlove, a music promoter and former arts administrator for the City of Chicago.

Each market is different and every market is changing rapidly, Mr. Orlove says, but he adds, "I don't think this is rocket science. With new media, everything is at your fingertips. Gone are the days when you would be reading The New York Times to find out what's happening with local bands. Now bands are going out and attracting attention themselves through new media; there are blogs covering music."

But today's listeners don't particularly pay attention to labels like "blues" or "Afro-jazz" or "hip-hop," Orlove says.

"There are always going to be labels, but it doesn't mean that a band labeled Afro-pop can't be popular with people who don't follow world music. You just don't want to limit yourself to only one kind of music and one kind of fan," he says.

Mark Gorney, an independent music promoter, puts it this way. "The problem isn't world music, because if you look at Cesária Évora [the late singer from Cape Verde], she was singing this traditional music and people were digging it. But music evolves, and the question, is does it evolve in a way that retains something traditional or does it evolve into something else? It's dictated by personal taste."

How to evolve

African musicians have been bringing their music to American shores for centuries, of course, and attracting listeners with their own sounds while adapting to local preferences. American musical forms from country to jazz to blues, and even rock 'n' roll, all have African parentage.

But in a world of marketing, it isn't always easy for African musicians to make sure their potential listeners can find their - Christian Science Monitor

"Q&A with Peacedriven Winner Helder Tsinine"

Q: Your song “Va Gumulelana” won the Peacedriven
Songwriting Award for 2011. What inspired you to write this song and what message do you hope people take from it?
A: “Va Gumulelana” in Ronga means “they are fighting.” The overall
meaning of the song is “stop the war so that the children can grow in
peace.” When there are wars, the people are the ones who pay for it – being displaced, losing family members and destroying the infrastructure that can grow the country forward. The message I hope people can take from it is to always stand up for what is right. Saying nothing won’t make the problems go away.
Q: How did growing up in Mozambique infuence your music?
A: Growing up in Mozambique influenced my music a lot because it made me realize who I am and where I come from. When I sit down and write my songs, the topics that first pop out of my mind are related to me or the things I grew up with. For instance, the civil war that lasted from 1977 to 1992 affected me directly. I remember my family members who were killed or had to move to other countries like South Africa. Some of my family came to my parents' house since it was
in the safe area. I write about my family members who I have lost because of the war. Another topic I write about is the HIV and AIDS epidemic that became a reality when I began to see people that are close to me being affected by it and losing their lives because of the lack of medication or education about the virus. Lastly, life after the civil war, how people struggle to put food on their kitchen table but are still happy and able to share whatever they have with one another. Growing up poor and at the age of 12, I sold orange juice in the streets to help bring an income at home. Many more situations influenced my behavior and my music.
Q: What do you ultimately hope to achieve as an artist and songwriter?
A: As a songwriter and an artist, I would like to be able to use my music to reach out to those who have a lack of information and to help educate people about the prevention of HIV, especially in the rural areas and among youth. I also want to talk about other topics that create dangers for humans and our habitat. I also would like to help promote music from Mozambique that is not well known around the world and to share and teach about this music. The music and Mozambican culture are very rich and have a great deal to offer to the world music scene.
Dec. 19, 2011
Peacedriven Campaign
Q: Do you believe music has the power to create positive change?
A: I really believe that music creates positive change because it touches the heart, brings happiness and people usually relate to the message being played in their devices without even knowing the artist very well. The power of the music is so strong that if it is used well it can be an educational tool for society and help change certain behaviors.
Q: What projects are you currently working on?
A: I am currently working on recording with my band Kina Zoré our first album that will be coming out next year. The band has grown a lot since the beginning of it, and all the band members are very dedicated, passionate and professionals who really love African music. I hope one day to bring them to Africa where this music comes from.
f.y.i. Kina Zoré drummer Noah Teshu shared with us that Helder first performed his composition “Va Gumulelana” with his father, who both taught him about music, and to be aware of the social issues around him. - Peacedriven

"Com a música 'Va Gumelelana': Músico Hélder Tsinine ganha importante prêmio nos EUA"

O músico e compositor moçambicano Hélder Tsinine é o vencedor da Sexta edição do Prémio “ Músicos Condutores da Paz”, noticia a imprensa norte-americana. Com a canção "Va Gumulelana", ele ultrapassou na escolha os mais de 300 músicos concorrentes àquele prêmio anual de música, seleccionados por um juri formado por activistas sociais e músicos. A Campanha “Condutores da Paz” é patrocinado pela

A música com que Tsnine venceu o prêmio – cantada em dialecto moçambicano Ronga e na qual ele apela para "parar a guerra, crescer em paz" – foi gravada pela banda de que é líder, Kina Zoré, e é a primeira em lingua estrangeira (que não o inglês) a ganhar o Prêmio “Músicos Condutores da Paz”.

"Embora escrita numa língua estrangeira para a maioria, a melodia afro-pop da música traduz eficazmente o apelo universal para a paz", disse Anthony Stokes, director da Campanha “Condutores da Paz”.

O prêmio atribuido a Tsinine resultou num montante em dinheiro não divulgado e a sua canção vencedora pode ser ouvida no site da Campanha (

Juntamente com o vencedor do grande prêmio, os membros do juri haviam seleccionado outros três finalistas com base na melodia, originalidade e letras: Jennings ("Cling to Me"), Malea McGuinness ("Always Something to Believe In") e Todd Michaelsen ("Love Anthem”, realizado pela banda My Pet Dragão).

Hélder Tsinine, actualmente a residir na cidade norte-americana de Boston, Estado de Massachusetts, nasceu e cresceu na na capital moçambicana, Maputo, no seio de uma família de músicos. Naquele país, Tsinine Ele lidera a banda de afro-pop Kina Zoré e, segundo o site (, a realidade moçambicana inspira o seu ideal de justiça social.

A sua canção "Va Gumulelana", produzido por Dillon Zahner, é apenas uma das muitas que ele escreveu para reforçar a conscienlização das pessoas sobre as causas que defende, incluindo protestos contra os crimes de guerra e a necessidade de medidas de prevenção da contra a Sida.

São os seguintes os músicos gravaram a canção "Va Gumulelana": Helder Tsinine (guitarra, voz principal), Stephanie Wieseler (saxofone soprano), Conor Jones (trompete), Jordan Townsend (saxofone tenor), Dillon Zahner (percussão, coros, produtor e engenheiro do som), Galen Willett (baixo, coros) e Noah Teshu (bateria).

O Prêmio deste ano da campanha “Condutores da Paz” teve concorrente de diversas partes do mundo, incluindo Austrália, Canadá, França, Jamaica, Israel, Reino Unido e os Estados Unidos.

“Condutores da Paz é um projeto sem fins lucrativos e apartidário, destinado a motivar os activistas sociais, bem como capacitar uma nova geração a agir a favor da paz no mundo. - Radio Moçambique

"Mozambique Native Helder Tsinine Wins Peacedriven Songwriting Award"

NEW YORK, NY (December 2, 2011) – A bandleader and songwriter originally from Mozambique has been named the winner of the sixth Peacedriven Songwriting Award.


Helder Tsinine’s song “Va Gumulelana” topped more than 300 entries to claim the annual music prize, selected by a panel of judges comprised of social activists and musicians. The Peacedriven Campaign, in partnership with, sponsors the award.

Tsinine’s composition – written in the Mozambican language Ronga and translated to mean “stop the war, grow in peace” – is performed by his band Kina Zoré and is the first non-English language song to win the Peacedriven Songwriting Award.

“While written in a language that might be foreign to most, the song’s Afro-pop melody and overall spirit translate effectively with universal appeal,” said Anthony Stokes, director of the Peacedriven Campaign. “Tsinine’s talent as a songwriter, mixed with his fellow band members’ outstanding musicianship, make for an award-winning mix.”

As the winner of the Peacedriven Songwriting Award, Tsinine receives a monetary award and his winning song can be heard on the Campaign’s website (

Along with one grand prize winner, judges also selected three finalists based on originality, melody and lyrics. The three finalists are: Jennings (“Cling to Me”), Malea McGuinness (“Always Something to Believe In”), and Todd Michaelsen (“Love Anthem” performed by the band My Pet Dragon). Reviews of the finalists are posted on the Campaign’s website.

Honorable Mentions include: Eric Colville (“End of War” performed by The Selkies), Lisa Jaeggi (“All the Good”), Levi McGrath (“Children of War”) and Michelle Owen (“Rise Up”).

This year’s winner Tsinine, who now resides in Boston, Massachusetts, grew up in the Mozambican capital of Maputo to a musical family and was raised during that country’s intense civil war lasting from 1977 to 1992. He now leads the Afro-pop band Kina Zoré and according to the band’s website (, Tsinine’s life in Mozambique inspired his strong sense of social justice.

His song “Va Gumulelana,” produced by Dillon Zahner, is just one of many he’s written to raise awareness about causes including war crimes prevention and AIDS prevention.

The following musicians played on “Va Gumulelana”: Helder Tsinine (guitar, lead vocals), Stephanie Wieseler (soprano saxophone), Conor Jones (trumpet), Jordan Townsend (tenor saxophone), Dillon Zahner (percussion, background vocals, producer, recording engineer), Galen Willett (bass, background vocals), and Noah Teshu (drums). New additions to the band Kina Zoré include: Sean Peters (trumpet, background vocals), Cory Boris (trombone), and Judith Soberanes (percussion).

The Peacedriven Campaign received song submissions from around the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Jamaica, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, via the online music network

The mission of Peacedriven, a nonprofit and nonpartisan service project, is to motivate social activists as well as empower a new generation to act. The project has received funding from YouthVenture, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and the UNC Center for Public Service. Contact Anthony Stokes at

For the PDF version of this press release, download HERE. - Peacedriven

"Músico Hélder Tsinine vence sexta edição do prémio norte-americano "Músicos Condutores da Paz""

Maputo - O músico e compositor moçambicano Hélder Tsinine venceu a sexta edição do prémio " Músicos Condutores da Paz", com a canção cantada em dialeto ronga "Va Gumulelana", noticiou a imprensa norte-americana.

A música com a qual Hélder Tsinine venceu o prémio é entoada em dialecto ronga, do sulk de Moçambique, e apela a "parar com a guerra, crescer em paz".

Foi a primeira vez que uma música numa língua estrangeira ganhou o prémio "Músicos Condutores da Paz".

"Embora escrita numa língua estrangeira para a maioria, a melodia afro - pop da música traduz eficazmente o apelo universal para a paz", disse o director da campanha "Condutores da Paz", Anthony Stokes, citado, hoje, pela Rádio Moçambique.

Os membros do júri seleccionaram Herder Tsinine e mais três finalistas com base na melodia, originalidade e letras, nomeadamente, Jennings com "Cling to Me", Malea McGuinness, com "Always Something to Believe In" e Todd Michaelsen com a canção "Love Anthem", realizada pela banda My Pet Dragão.

Hélder Tsinine, que reside actualmente em Boston, nos Estados Unidos, nasceu e cresceu em Maputo no seio de uma família de músicos. Em Boston o músico moçambicano lidera a banda afro-pop Kina Zoré.

A sua canção "Va Gumulelana", produzida por Dillon Zahner, é uma das várias que ele escreveu para reforçar a consciencialização das pessoas sobre os protestos contra os crimes de guerra e a necessidade de medidas de prevenção da Sida. - Agência AngolaPress

"Mozambique native wins Peacedriven Songwriting Award"

Dorchester – Tracing his roots to the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique, Helder Tsinine’s songwriting speaks of memories of a civil war, in the words of his native country.
Tsinine’s song “Va Gumulelana,” which means, “they are fighting,” and sends a message to “stop the war and grow in peace,” was named the winner of the sixth Peacedriven Songwriting Award.
As the bandleader of the Afro-pop band Kina Zoré, Tsinine, described the achievement as very emotional and also a big step.
The song that speaks of peace hits home for Tsinine, 31, whose native town of Maputo saw its share of hard times.
“I grew up in Mozambique during the civil war,” explained Tsinine, whose song topped more than 300 entries and became the first non-English language song to win the Peacedriven Award. “I lost many family members. I had relatives come to my house seeking safety and to survive the war.”
Between 1977 and 1992, a bloody civil war tore through Mozambique; over 900,000 people died from fighting and starvation. Five million civilians were displaced. It is a legacy that continues to plague Mozambique and many of its people, including Tsinine, who explained that his home was in a relatively safe area and therefore was used as a safe haven by many of his relatives, who inhabited the more vulnerable villages outside the city.
While much of his music raises awareness on issues affecting Mozambique and other African nations, like AIDS and war, he also sings about the beauty, the food and the culture of his native country.
“I mix traditional rhythms from Mozambique and a little Jaz and Pop,” said Tsinine. “The blend is very danceable and very happy.”
Not surprisingly, Tsinine was brought up in a home filled with music. His grandmother, a storyteller, would often entertain with traditional Mozambican songs and stories.
“We did not have entertainment, so my grandmother was our entertainment. She would play the Sikitkis percussion [Mozambican instrument] and tell stories and we sang along with her,” recalled Tsinine, adding that his father, a notable guitarist and singer, also contributed tremendously to his musical upbringing.
To this day, Tsinine continues to perform select songs from the family repertoire, such as Xitsungo Xa Africa, first played by his father.
“My father rehearsed at home, so I watched him play,” recalled Tsinine, adding that he was also influenced by American Rock.
At age 17, Tsinine gained an appreciation for his native rhythms and began to learn the Mozambican music and its traditional instruments.
“I started playing the guitar and I tried imitating the traditional instruments and their sounds,” stated the songwriter, who also created the band “Xitende,” when he was 20.
In 2006, Tsinine moved to the United States with his wife Elizabeth Matos, who is from Fall River. He graduated from Berklee College of Music and today he works at the YMCA in a music and youth initiative.
“I try to teach everything; who I am and my music,” stated Tsinine. “Music is a universal language.”
As the winner of the Peacedriven Songwriting Award, Tsinine receives a monetary award and his winning song can be heard on the Campaign’s website
- O Jornal

"Band Preaches Politics through Afro-Pop"

On September 15, a collection of disparate instruments crowded the Berklee College of Music Lawrence and Alma Berk Recital Hall’s stage. A group of jazz instruments stood on the left, a rock band setup occupied the right, and a collection of African drums dominated the center. Though the hall appeared to be set for three separate bands, Kina Zoré was the only group to grace the stage. Such an unusual juxtaposition of musical styles may not seem conducive to a harmonious performance; however, this combination is the definition of the style of music that the band plays.

Consisting of eight musicians from all around the world, Kina Zoré plays Mozambican Afro-pop, a genre defined by its synthesis of multiple instruments and styles. On Thursday, the band performed at Berklee for percussionist Judith Soberanes’ senior recital—a requirement for all seniors at the college. The band members are as diverse as the equipment they use; playing instruments from the trombone to the congas, and hailing from places as disparate as Los Angeles and Sudan, the band’s members merge elements of their diverse backgrounds and experiences and include various musical styles in their work.

Though the members of Kina Zoré self-proclaimedly coalesce under the genre of Afro-pop, the term is not much help in defining their musical style. An amalgamation of a number of genres—including jazz, blues, salsa, R&B, and even rock—Afro-pop encompasses music from the entire African continent. Though each country, region, and language—of which there are over 3,000—possesses its own type of music, Afro-pop uses traditional African rhythms and lyrics and melds them with Western sounds. The resulting Westernized sound creates a universality rare in many other genres.

Although sung in Ronga, a Mozambican language, Kina Zoré’s lyrics combine with a hard-hitting trumpet, smooth saxophone, tension-building bass, and native Cuban conga. The mixture creates a tropical atmosphere, which is then infused with a riffing guitar and techno-inspired keyboard melodies to form a sound that—although an arrangement of various facets of music—is similar to American popular music of today. Their music showcases the revitalized saxophone, as does Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” or Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger;” employs a synthesizer on the melodia, similar to works by familiar artists like Lady Gaga and T-Pain; and share tropical roots with artists like Rihanna and Nicki Minaj as inspiration for their music. Though its lyrics are incomprehensible to most people in the United States, Kina Zoré proves that the rhythm, melody, and pitch of the song can play a big role in the music’s global connectivity and expression.

Although only two of the band members are from Africa, all eight in the ensemble have a deep respect for and interest in African music. Soberanes, of Chiapas, Mexico, loves the flexibility of the genre. “We can mix a lot of styles. We have the freedom to explore different styles in music and use electronics to synchronize everything,” she said. Not only does Soberanes love the liberty of the Afro-pop genre, she also identifies with African music: the instruments of Africa and Mexico are similar—the conga she plays is from Cuba and the djembe is of African descent, and there is a similar tropical quality present in music from both areas of the globe. This further signifies Afro-pop’s global influence and charm through its evident relatability to a myriad of cultures, genres, and countries.

Helder de Sousa Tsinine—the affable leader of Kina Zoré—composes the songs, taking immense influence from his roots in Mozambique. Tsinine came to the United States in 2007 to attend Berklee. Growing up in a musically inclined family, Tsinine used music as a positive inspiration during the strife in his homeland. From 1977 to 1992, Mozambique was overcome by a civil war that directly affected his family and, now, his music.

Tsinine’s upbeat music possesses an ulterior motive—a self-proclaimed “consciousness-raising” that lifts it past generic Afro-pop to music with a message. Tsinine introduced a song, titled “Va Gumulelana,” meaning “stop the war so that the children can grow in peace.” Another of the band’s songs, “Mupfana,” was dedicated to children whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS. Tsinine uses his country and personal history as material and projects his beliefs, desires, and memories onto his lyrics. He thus allows Kina Zoré to extend its cultural dialogue past performing music and deliver a hopeful and political message. “Our next song is called ‘Tshova Nholo.’ This means ‘never give up in life,’” he said toward the middle of the set. “Whatever you do, just follow your heart and never give up.” - The Harvard Crimson


Still working on that hot first release.



Kina Zoré traces its roots back to the other side of the world. While established in Boston, the band is infused with the sound of a city over 8,000 miles away. Bandleader Helder Tsinine uses Kina Zoré as a medium for cultural exploration; boldly taking the rhythms and melodies of his native Mozambique into new territory.

Not surprisingly, Helder came from a musical home. Growing up in Maputo (the capital), traditional songs were all around him. His family – especially his grandmother - would often regale one another with Mozambican songs and stories. Baptista Tsinine, Helder’s father and a notable guitarist and singer in his own right, also contributed tremendously to his musical upbringing. To this day, Helder continues to perform select songs from the family repertoire, such as "Xitsungo Xa Africa," first played by his father.

While the Tsinine home in Maputo is a beautiful place, it’s seen its share of hard times. Between 1977-92, a bloody civil war tore through Mozambique. The conflict affected everyone, and Helder was no exception. His home was in a relatively safe area, yet many of his relatives inhabited the more vulnerable villages outside the city. The result was a continuous stream of extended family taking sanctuary from the surrounding conflict.

Being raised in wartime was difficult, but it also imbued Helder with a strong sense of social justice. The music he writes now is both joyous and purposeful; it’s highly danceable, yet also raises awareness of issues like AIDS awareness, and prevention of war crimes. Kina Zoré is now proudly continuing in the tradition of luminaries like Thomas Mapfumo, Fela Kuti and Bob Marley, proving that music made to move the world forward can still move people on the dance floor.

Band Members