ZNi International will perform a live-stream show at Historic Everett Theatre on Sept. 25. (Steve Arcenio)

ZNi International will perform a live-stream show at Historic Everett Theatre on Sept. 25. (Steve Arcenio)

Live-stream concert to offer ‘fresh vibes’ during pandemic

Zimbabwean-American musician ZNi International’s show will benefit Work2BeWell, a mental health initiative.

An Afro-fusion artist is offering some relief from everyday stresses in the COVID-19 era in the form of “fresh vibes.”

ZNi International will perform a live-stream show benefiting Work2BeWell on Sept. 25 at the Historic Everett Theatre via Facebook.

The #ItTakesWork2BeWell show — featuring DJ Supreme — will include hits off of ZNi International’s “Good Karma” album.

ZNi International is the stage name of Ziyanai Maraire, son of renowned marimba and mbira player Dumisani “Dumi” Maraire.

“I was born into a musical family,” he said. “My father would take us to his shows, he’d let me come in and rehearse with his band.”

Maraire, who was born in Seattle, started off playing African instruments. When he shared a song he recorded in the studio, his father told him: “You should do that.”

He has a long list of singles, including “Celebrate,” “Oh Yeah,” “Beastmode” and “High Grade & Whiskey,” to his name.

The 10-track “Good Karma,” is his first album. Released in 2019, it includes the songs “Satisfy,” “Change,” “Nobody” and “My Baby.” What about the title track?

“That’s how I try to live my life,” Maraire said. “What goes around comes around, what you put in is what you get out, you reap what you sow.”

He’s working on his second album, titled “Redemption,” right now. It’s set to be released in 2021. He’s already recorded four songs for that one.

The Bothell resident hopes his virtual performance will raise awareness about Work2BeWell and the importance of mental health.

Maraire, owner of the Maraire Entertainment Agency, recognizes that this once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic has rattled our sense of well-being. Statistics show that more of us are dealing with depression and anxiety, or even attempting suicide.

“I want to give people some fresh vibes because of everything that’s going on with COVID,” he said. “A lot’s changing right now. So my hope is that this concert will help take their their minds off of it.”

The artist dealt with depression and anxiety for years, so he understands what its like. He wants to give back in the name of mental health.

Work2BeWell, a Providence St. Joseph Health and Well Being Trust initiative, is working to make mental health a priority for today’s youth.

According to the Pacific Northwest Suicide Resource Center, suicide is the No. 2 cause of death for 10- to 24-year-olds.

After seeing a rise in teen suicides in the Pacific Northwest, Providence behavioral health specialists asked teenagers how they want to reduce mental health stigma and promote wellness among their peers. Thus, the youth-powered Work2BeWell movement was formed.

Work2BeWell is empowering youth to pass legislation, establish clubs, launch podcasts and implement school curriculum to prevent teen suicide. Go to www.work2bewell.org for more information.

“We’ve created a free resource hub through Work2BeWell, but now it’s a question of, if we build it, will they come?” said Mary Renouf, spokeswoman for Providence St. Joseph Health. “So it’s great when we have partners like ZNi who are passionate about mental health. We’re super excited.”

Maraire calls himself “ZNi” because it’s how he explains the pronounciation of “Ziyanai.” Maraire added “International” because he is both American and Zimbabwean.

His family crossed the Atlantic several times for his father’s teaching job. Dumi taught at the University of Washington in Seattle and at the University of Zimbabwe at Harare. The ethnomusicology lecturer hopped back and forth between UW and UZ jobs throughout his career.

Maraire’s father is credited with introducing Zimbabwean music to the U.S. He performed all over the Pacific Northwest with the band Dumi & the Minanzi Marimba Ensemble.

“My father basically introduced the marimba to the Western World,” Maraire said. “He was the first one to play it here.”

Ziyanai moved back to Seattle on his own when he was 17. Not long after graduating from Nathan Hale High School, he was hit hard with grief: His mother died from cancer in 1997, his father died of a stroke in 1998, and his brother died in a car accident in 1999.

“Their deaths sent me spiraling down,” said Maraire, who was just a teenager at the time. “It was a dark time in my life. I went through a really bad depression, dealt with a lot of anxiety. It was 10 years of dealing with that.”

Dumi’s legacy lives on through his children. In addition to Zni International, some of Maraire’s brothers and sisters also have music careers. The late Chiwoniso Maraire was the “Zimbabwe mbira queen.” Dumisani Maraire Jr. performs as Draze and Tendai Maraire is part of hip-hop duos Shabazz Palaces and Chimurenga Renaissance.

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

If you stream

Zni International will perform the live-stream show #ItTakesWork2BeWell at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Historic Everett Theatre via Facebook. The Afro-fusion artist will play hits from his album “Good Karma.” Donations made to the virtual tip jar benefit Work2BeWell. Go to www.facebook.com/ZNiInternational for the link. Call 425-258-6766 or go to www.yourhet.org for more information.

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