The Charleston Library Society is pleased to present a rare audience with Tuffus Zimbabwe. Not only is the renowned musician a fellow Charlestonian, but he’s also the keyboardist for Saturday Night Live and the great-nephew of Edmund Thornton Jenkins, an American composer during the Harlem Renaissance who spent most of his life abroad studying at the Royal Academy of Music after arriving in England by way of playing/directing the band of his father’s Jenkins Orphanage.
Mr. Zimbabwe’s appearance at CLS comes on the eve of the 2023 Colour of Music Festival, which kicks off on May 4th and and features the debut of three pieces by his great-uncle. During these back-to-back appearances, the artist will offer an insider’s view of how Mr. Jenkins came to known as the “Father of Lowcountry Black Classic Music,” as well as some background on the quintet compositions that he has created in homage to his roots, plus further insights on the cultural and historical relevance of his family’s imprint on classical music via Charlestonia, perhaps one of the greatest musical tributes to Charleston ever composed.
Tickets are $25 for members and $35 for guests, and include a boxed lunch.
Click here, or call 843.723.9912, to purchase.
About Tuffus Zimbabwe
Tuffus Zimbabwe is a pianist, composer, and educator originally from the Roxbury area of Boston. His completed his Bachelors’ degree at Berklee College of Music and received a Master of Music degree from New York University.
Mr. Zimbabwe is currently keyboardist in the Saturday Night Live house band, pianist, and assistant musical director for Trilogy: an Opera Company. Music has been a part Tuffus’ family as his grandmother Mildred Jenkins was a professional vocalist in the Operatic and Spiritual styles. She studied music at the Sorbonne in Paris and the New England Conservatory.
Mildred was also the sister of Edmund Thornton Jenkins (1894-1926), a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist (violinist, pianist, and primarily a clarinetist and saxophonist).
From early on Edmund received private training and got his professional start playing, directing, and arranging music in his father’s Orphanage Band and Church. He furthered his studies at Avery Institute, Morehouse College, and the Royal Academy in London.
Mildred would later inherit his music manuscripts, then passed down to her son, Jomo Zimbabwe. Tuffus Zimbabwe restored, edited, and arranged Edmund’s music from handwritten manuscripts into printed score.
Mildred and Edmund Thornton Jenkins’ parents were Rev. Daniel Joseph Jenkins and Lena James, who founded the Jenkins Orphanage in 1891 in Charleston, SC. To help fund the orphanage as it grew, Rev. Daniel Jenkins would soon create the Jenkins Orphanage Band.
At its height, there were multiple Jenkins bands performing nationally, including a residency on Broadway for DuBose Heyward’s original play Porgy debuting in 1927 (which preceded and influenced Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess which debuted in 1935), and in Europe, most notably performing for the Queen of England.