KALIMBAMAN SCOTTY HAYWARD

Hi - I'm Kalimbaman Scotty Hayward.  I've been playing, building, and collecting African Kalimbas for over 50 years.  (I like to say that I started as a baby.  Not true, but I like to say it.)  

     I give performances and demonstrations on a wide variety of kalimbas (also known as mbira, sansa, African thumb-piano).  I built most of my kalimbas, and I've also collected kalimbas from Africa, the Americas, and The Caribbean.  My music ranges from instrumental jazz to reggae, calypso, funk, folk, and originals.  I usually do some audience participation, and some hands-on demonstrations, especially for Children's Shows.

     In addition to my solo "Kalimbaman" shows, I often perform with The Fabulous Yahoo Drummers.

     For information on booking shows, please email: scottyhayward *[at symbol]* msn.com

Evolution

Here's one of my oldest songs, played on one of my oldest kalimbas.  I made this instrument in 1973, when I was an apprentice to Ryphon Gray.  Ryphon is a self-taught kalimba maker, who designed several innovations, including adjustable braces, tines that are easy to tune, and sound holes on the sides of the box (instead of the bottom).

"Evolution" is my take on an African mbira style.

Cakewalk Into Town

This song is by Taj Mahal and is played on my newest creation: The Triple Meinl Gourd Kalimba.  The gourd is from Africa.  I've mounted three Meinl Kalimbas inside, and tuned them in chord patterns.

Everything I Do Is Gonna Be Funky

This song is by Allen Toussaint.  Played on a Hugh Tracy Kalimba, with my own blues tuning.

Für Elise

This song is by (with apologies to) Ludwig Beethoven.  This is how I imagine Beethoven would have written this song, if he had a kalimba and a Wah-Wah pedal.  Played on my good old A minor kalimba, one of the first ones I made.

Ocean Bridge/One Drop

This is a mashup of two original tunes.  It is played on a Ryphon-style kalimba that I made about 20 years ago.

     Each kalimba has a unique key arrangement and tuning.  My instruments and tunings are always evolving.  I might add a note, change a note, or rearrange the tines to make a pattern easier to play.  I create each tuning by starting with the pitches that resonate best on that kalimba.  Then I gradually add notes to fill out a scale, or to play a certain pattern.

     The sound holes are used to focus on a note, or notes, and to create vibrato.

     Most of my kalimbas are amplified using Barcus-Berry acoustic guitar pickups. Most of my Hugh Tracey Kalimbas have built-in pickups.

     A word about my foot maracas.  African Mbira players are usually accompanied by a hosho (shaker) player.  The first time I saw an African Mbira player, he was traveling without a hosho player.  Instead, he had devised foot percussion by attaching bells to his shoes.  After that, I started experimenting with foot maracas.  Some of my youngest fans think that the coolest thing I do is to play something with my foot.

     I grew up around pianos.  My father rebuilt pianos in our garage.  And he also had a great collection of records from The Caribbean and Africa.  So I listened to everything from Bach and Chopin to Belafonte and Olantunji.

     I studied classical piano with a wonderful teacher.  But as a teenager I started listening to a lot of jazz and I wanted to get away from playing music from a written page.  

     Then I got my first kalimba, an instrument with no written music and no set tuning.  I figured out how to play a few tunes, and I got some records of African Mbira music.  I tried to copy some of their riffs, but my kalimba was totally different from theirs, and I did not even know how they arranged their keys.

     I was still playing classical music, mainly on piano and French horn.  About the same time I was getting tired of classical music (and school), I met Gary Gray (later renamed Ryphon Gray).  He was making superb, innovative kalimbas.  I became his apprentice.  After a year we were broke; but I had a suitcase full of great kalimbas.  For the next 15 years I continued developing my kalimba skills, led jam sessions, and occasionally played percussion in local bands.

     I formed my first band, The Earthmother's Majimba Band, in 1989, and we began touring festivals and art shows.

     Over the years, people have given me many different kalimbas, including a Jamaican bass kalimba, also known as the rumbabox.

    In 1995, I started playing the rumbabox with my friend, Mak Dervo, who played panflutes, charango, and guitar.  We learned a few calypsos, boldly named ourselves The Calypso Kings, and started playing gigs, mostly strolling shows.  We did our Mak and Scotty Strolling Minstrel Show all around the Midwest for about 15 years.  We also had a band, The Party Guise, with a drummer and often, a didgeridoo.

     Since 2010, I have concentrated on my solo Kalimbaman show.  I've added several Hugh Tracey Kalimbas, which are quite different from the ones I make.

     For the past few years, I've also performed with the all-percussion ensemble: The Fabulous Yahoo Drummers.