We’re so excited to welcome Ratie D and her amazing band to the Hult Center on March 25 for the first performance of our new 10 x 10 series – which focuses on showcasing incredible rising talent. Although she is quickly becoming a regular name in Eugene, I wanted to reach out to Ratie to find out more about her journey as an artist, her new EP, and what she has in store for us with her live performance.
Tell us about yourself and about your journey as an artist.
Okay, my name is Claire Ratidzo Dangarembwa, but I go by the name of Ratie D. I’m originally from Zimbabwe, and I love music, I love expressing myself through song, I write my music. I wouldn’t like to exactly put myself in a box to say what type of music but it’s along the lines of Afro jazz, reggae, and music in general that can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
I play a Zimbabwean traditional instrument called a mbira, which is a very sacred instrument. And I use that instrument as a way of connecting to my ancestors and also showcasing the beauty of Zimbabwe. I was born and raised in Zimbabwe.
I have been collaborating with amazing musicians all over the world. I started my music journey performing in an acapella group called Nobuntu, an all female acapella group called Level 2, and they’re based in Zimbabwe. I worked with Bongo Love, another Zimbabwean band, and that is how I managed to travel out here to the US while doing backing vocals. I also have worked in an African circus, where I was the ringmaster while also providing music in a live band for acrobats to do their amazing work. With that group, I traveled all around the US, particularly to colleges and universities, during maybe say, African African celebration days, that’s when we would travel all over with this crew.
Then in 2017, I decided that I wanted to start my own musical journey. And I was very blessed to have amazing artists like Idit Schner who is a professor at the University of Oregon. John Mambira, who was part of Bongo Love, Gilbert Zvamaida, Garrett Baxter, and Torrey Newhart. So, I’ve been so blessed to find these artists and collaborate with them. It’s a jazz quartet. But when we come together, it feels like an afro jazz. It is an amazing combination. So, with them, you know, their knowledge in music allows me to grow as an artist, and express myself in ways that I didn’t even know that I could.
I just recently released my album Ink & Melodies, and I’m very proud of this EP because it’s really a reflection of who I am and, and where I’m trying to go and how I’m trying to, you know, navigate this whole music industry. I’m very excited for people to listen to the songs because there’s so much versatility in this EP, so if anyone likes Afro jazz, they can find it in there. If anyone likes hip hop, they’ll find it in there. If anyone likes, you know, just any feel good music. I call it feel good music! They’ll definitely find it in the EP. So yeah, I would recommend that people check it out.
How long did were you working on this EP?
Okay, we went into the studio in November 2019 and we were done in June 2020. So it was quite a long stretch. And I was very blessed because I was sponsored by a lady by the name Erin Ely. She’s the one who helped me to financially be able to record this music. I’m forever thankful to her. But it was an amazing honor to work at Sprout City Studios. It was definitely really good working with Thaddeus Moore, as he’s very skilled at his job. He made it really easy for me to produce wonderful music.
The last time we spoke, we were doing a solo show streamed from your home. On March 25, we get to have you on stage at the Hult Center with your full band. Tell us about what you are feeling about getting to be back on a stage with your band?
It feels amazing. And considering it is the Hult Center, it’s a very big deal for me actually. This would be my second time, as I did perform at the Hult when the mayor invited me. It was an opening for something – I just can’t put my finger on exactly what it was. But second time around and bringing my band with me at the Hult Center, it feels so exciting! I definitely look forward to it. And I can’t wait for people to hear, you know, what we have been working on. Considering the pandemic as well, we haven’t been able to perform as much as we desire. We’re all pretty fired up and excited, you know, to share who we are.
What can people expect from your live show with the band, tell us about what that energy is going to be like?
Wow, it is definitely going to be high energy in terms of emotions, because like I’m saying, we all have been bottling these feelings of not performing. We are just excited to give 100%. I just generally give my all to the audience when I perform. It’s definitely going to be an intimate session where people really get to see who I am on stage. I don’t want to spoil it, but there will definitely be a star-studded band and they can expect to be blown away by us as a group.
This performance will kick-off our new 10×10 series which is focused on highlighting incredible rising talent. Are there any artists you think we should be on the lookout for?
Right, local artists that I would definitely recommend people to check out. First of all, start with M5 Vibe. He is a spoken word artist and rap artist and he’s amazing. And I would highlight Shania Davis; she’s an amazing vocalist who is working on releasing some music very soon. I would also say Julian Outlaw; he’s another rap artist. They’re doing it right now, musically, so people should check them out.
Huge thanks to RatieD for taking the time to speak with me. You can always find more about Ratie on her website and Youtube. Make sure to grab your tickets for our first Livestream and kick-off of our 10×10 series on March 25 at 7 pm.
Interview by Rich Hobby