Wonder Women: Tunu Jumwa

Tunu Jumwa

“Your worth as a human being isn’t contingent on your musical capabilities.”

Tunu Jumwa is a bass player and music educator based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has been playing bass for the past five years and has performed alongside many household names in the emerging jazz and Afro-fusion scene in the country. Before starting bass, Tunu dabbled in acoustic and classical guitar in her teens, performing in recitals and competitive festivals where she nurtured her passion for improvisation. Her transition to bass was later inspired by musical greats like the Brazilian prodigy Michael Pipoquinha and world-renowned bassist Victor Wooten, whose annual Wooten Bass Camp she was delighted to attend in the summer of 2016.

Tunu holds a Bachelor’s in Music and an Advanced Diploma in Early Childhood Development Education. Being an avid music learner, she has attained a Certificate of Merit in Improvisation from the Berklee College of Music and engaged in various masterclasses with favorite players like Robson Albuquerque and Michael Pipoquinha.

Tunu currently plays the Princess Contrabass, a custom-made piece designed by the Spanish bass enthusiast and friend Javier Janaid. She views her bass as more than an instrument; it is a medium that captures her inner world, conveying the rich tapestry of emotions, passions, and lasting inspirations that have shaped her experiences.

Who were your influences?

My main and first influence in music was definitely my dad. He is an avid music enthusiast, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. He gave me guitar lessons when I started out and introduced me to good quality music.

What are you woodshedding right now?

Generally working on whatever interests me; right now though, I’m working more on rhythm and vocabulary as well as repertoire for upcoming gigs.

We usually hear about the downsides of being a female in the music industry. Let’s flip the script; do you see any benefits?

Well, it’s definitely easier to get noticed because female instrumentalists are rare.

How are you handling working through the pandemic? How has technology helped (or hindered) you? Any tips to share?

Honestly, it’s been difficult both financially and psychologically. Thankfully, things are opening up. I’m looking to get my MOJO back in full swing soon. Technology has definitely helped, especially in conducting classes online rather than in person. That saves me time and gas money, and I’m able to have more clients in a day.

Any current projects that you can tell us about?

I’m finally working on my debut album. It’s really scary, but I’m excited about it. Keep your eyes peeled for news about it.

Dream artist or band to collaborate with?

Oh man… so many! I don’t know where to begin. Lisa-Oduor Noah, Tatenda Gurupira, Kato Change, Bruno Mars, Justin Lee Schultz, Tori Kelly, and Eli Soares… just to mention a few.

Important cause or issue that you support?

Matters to do with mental health, especially depression and anxiety, hit close to home.

What would you want to change about the music industry?

I would like to see better remuneration for artists, instrumentalists, and music teachers. Music is a vital part of the human experience. It’s in movies, ads, religious institutions, bars, etc. Those that bring music to life by creating it…or teaching it…deserve fair compensation.

An early experience that shaped you as an artist now?

I remember being enthralled when I watched Victor Wooten in the ‘Bass Day 99’ video. I was eleven years old. That made me realize that there is no limit to what humans can do. That’s a mindset I’ve carried going forward.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Your worth as a human being isn’t contingent on your musical capabilities.

What drew you to the music industry?

I admired how passionate my high school music teacher (Chox) was. I wanted to have a job I was just as passionate about.

What’s your favorite part about this line of work?

Music is very unifying. I can’t believe the people I’ve met through Music.

What was the first instrument you learned how to play?

Guitar. I played guitar for six years before I picked up the bass.

Where can we find you on the interwebs?

Instagram, Soundcloud, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Brittany Frompovich is a highly regarded educator, clinician, blogger, and bassist who currently resides in the Washington DC/NOVA region. For more content from Brittany, check out her blog, her YouTube channel, and her Bandcamp site. She also offers handmade unisex music-themed jewelry through her Etsy store. Get a Wonder Woman Tee!

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