Stanford’s Dumisile Mphamba stops by on musical tour


Photo by Brianne Reformina

Stanford Talisman member Dumisile Mphamba, a Zimbabwean, has spent her first year of college life at Stanford University, where she can practice her passion, singing, with the Talisman a cappella group. Talisman visited the KS Maui campus and performed on March 28.

The humming of the crowd grew louder as they waited anxiously for the next performance. Nine-year-old Dumisile Mphamba took a deep breath and stepped out to stand in front of a hushed crowd. Looking out, she spotted her family and smiled as she breathed in and sang the first beautiful note that began her journey through music, which brought her to the campus of Kamehameha Maui on Wednesday, March 28.

Raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, freshman Dumisile Mphamba found that music was a passion she would later carry with her to college. She said that music was something she was good at, and it helped her get to where she is today, which is attending one of America’s top private colleges, Stanford University, in California.

“I had never been to anywhere outside of Zimbabwe until I got accepted into Stanford, and I made the decision to move to the United States,” Mphamba said.

In Zimbabwe, her mother and father along with her two younger sisters supported her college choice as long as it was affordable and included her field of study, human biology.

A few other Stanford students from Zimbabwe encouraged Dumisile to apply to Stanford because they believed she could get in. Dumisile said that she “had options to attend other colleges,” but what “swung her decision” was Stanford’s own a cappella group, Talisman.

“Talisman was an a cappella group different from others I’ve known because they sang songs I knew from home, and that was special to me,” she said.

Holding the letter with the maroon-colored Stanford emblem, Dumisile made her final choice to attend Stanford University and later auditioned for Talisman, a semi-professional chorale group that tours. Their most recent travels brought them to campus to sing to music students and any others who were available to attend the performance during third block.

Talisman, Stanford’s a cappella group, was founded in 1998, and the group consists of 16 Stanford students who can sing songs in English and many other languages. The group is culturally based and sings arrangements that include international music from Chinese lullabies to Zulu hymns, setting them apart from most American a cappella groups. In fact, they completed their performance last week with a medley of two Hawaiian songs, “Aloha ʻOe” and “Hawaiʻi Aloha,” followed by an informal question-and-answer session.

Mphamba describes the origins and content of an African song before Talisman performs it.
Photo by Brianne Reformina
Mphamba describes the origins and content of an African song before Talisman performs it.

Talisman tours the United States every year, and this year is the first time they have sung in Hawaiʻi.

“The first thing I noticed when arriving in Maui was how the clouds sat on top of the mountains. It was an amazing and breathtaking view for me because it reminded me of my home,” Dumisile said.

Talisman performed on Oʻahu for Punahou High School before coming to Kamehameha Schools Mauiʻs Keōpūolani Hale.

Dumisile said Talisman has become a family that she’d “never forget because of how they can make [her] feel at home even though Zimbabwe [is] thousands of miles away.”