Mwanza Furaha is a gifted vocalist, actor, dancer, producer, instructor, and all-around entertainer. She has established herself as a skilled professional in a career that has spanned over 50 plus years.
Born in a small town in rural Texas, she was named Blondell Breed. Mwanza's family moved to San Francisco when she was 10 years old (she now claims the Bay Area as her permanent home). During her earlier years, she nurtured her creative skills through talent shows at school and the Baptist Church youth choir. By age 13, Mwanza was already working throughout the Bay Area with a group of friends known as the Young Troopers. With the support of several teachers, they soon changed their name to the Duncan Company and began touring the states of California, Oregon and Washington State for the next seventeen years.
She got her first experience with marketing with the Duncan Company and became aware of the popular term 'triple threat'. She branched out to make new connections in the music world. She received an offer to audition for The Apollo's, a female trio under contract with Warner Bros. Records. She got the job and they opened for Billy Eckstine on a tour of Texas Country Clubs. They later did a tour in the Orient and in Tucson, Arizona. She has shared the stage singing and acting with many famous legends/artists, including Richard 'Groove' Holmes, Pharaoh Sanders, Billy Eckstine, Maya Angelou, Betty Carter, Carmen McRae, Esther Phillips, Lou Rawls, Harold Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers, Sun Ra
Mwanza has worked in several countries including Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, and the Philippine Islands. In the 70's and 80's,
Mwanza taught acting, body conditioning, and stage presence classes at the Oakland Ensemble Theater, the San Francisco Neighborhood Arts Program and the YMCA. In March of '82 Mwanza relocated to Seattle, Washington, where along with her singing gigs, she was an acting coach/choreographer at both Franklin High School and the Southeast Youth Services Bureau. She was offered and accepted a position as a journalist for a local publication, "The Facts." She would attend various theatrical and music venues then write a review that was published in the Entertainment Section weekly.
Mwanza returned to the Bay Area in '84 and worked private venues for the most part.
In 1991 formed her own company, ADMM FAPA Enterprises (Artists Development, Management, Marketing of Fine & Performing Arts) and she produced, co-produced several projects with New Traditions Theater Company. She was invited if she could develop a project/entertainers to perform at a Black History Program for a group named "The Northern Nevada Black Awareness Society of Reno, Nevada. This was the beginning of a nine-year relationship. The job expanded to include the Juneteenth Festival Celebration as well.
She became PR/Marketing Rep for the Bay Area Friends of the Schomburg and because of her excellent work was asked go to New York for the dedication of a new wing at the Schomburg Center.
While assisting the Director of the San Francisco Historical Society, Mwanza did such an outstanding job, she was asked to be on the Public Relations Committee along with Belva Davis for the City of San Francisco_Ts new state of the art library.
From 1995 to 2001, Mwanza worked consistently as an actor, singer, technical person, and the business office at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, San Francisco. Her theatrical, television and film credits include Blacks, Blues, Black (Maya Angelou), The Belva Davis Show, Love At First Bite, Bullet, Mr Windfall, Space Is The Place (Sun Ra), Cotton Club Revue, Stompin' At The Savoy (Harold Nichols), The Amen Corner, Purlie, Take A Giant Step, Your Arms To Short To Box With God, MonkNBud, Waiting To Be Invited, Metal (premiered/Mill Valley Film Festival).
She performed with The Fringe Marin Players and 11/07 joined Bay Area Repertory Theatre Company. She was an actor and the costume person for the production Steal Away.
- Featured vocalist weekly at the Two Bird Cafe at the Valley Inn in San Geronimo from November 2003 to April 2005.
- Featured at the Tree House Sol Fest Back To Fifty's Festival in Tikilma and Grants Pass, Oregon
- Performs at the St Mary's Catholic Church Annual Benefit Concert and the San Francisco Bay View Music Festival yearly.
- Has worked the National Medical Fellowships Gala Luncheon/Palace Hotel, San Francisco (6/3/06) and The San Dimas Family Musical Festival (6/25/06).
- Vocalist with Dr. Jazz at John Lee Hooker's famed Boom Boom Room (August 2006-February 2007)
- Performed with the Lucky Otis Band, and the Red Hot Chachkas (she even sings a couple of songs in Yiddish).
- For five years she was a featured vocalist with The San Francisco Medicine Ball Band performing at Caffe Trieste (Sausalito & Berkeley), the Sausalito Cruising
- Club and several other hot nightspots in the Bay Area. She is also a featured vocalist with the Plymouth United Church of Christ choir, she is on the Church
- Council co-chairing The Concert Production Ministry, and is the lead vocalist for Sacred Ground (a band with a purpose). She was a member of the International
- Association of Jazz Education (IAJE - went out of business in 2008) and teaches voice and performance development in her home studio.
Dr. Mwanza recently relocated to Palm Springs, CA after residing in West Marin’s San Geronimo Valley for the past 31 years. Aside from performing throughout the area, she worked at the Lagunitas School, was a Deacon and a member of the choir at the San Geronimo Community Presbyterian Church and a volunteer for several of the non-profit organizations of Marin County.
- Martin Luther King Birthday Celebrations 2/2012 – 2/2018
- Juneteenth Celebrations 6/2014 – 6/2017
- Be The Dream Awards Ceremony 2/2015 – 2/2017
- Marin County Equity Summit 11/2015-11/2017
- Marin City Senior Lunches (monthly) 2014 – 2018
- Osher Jewish Comm. Ctr. Sr. Lunches 2000 – 2018
- Earth Day Events 2012 – 2017
- Human Race Event 2013 – 2017
- Cedars of Marin (Holiday Party) 2014 – 2017
- San Geronimo Valley Emergency Relief Fund 9/2013 – 9/2017
- Bread & Roses 1995 – 2018
- San Geronimo Community Center 1997 – 2018
- Valley Sing Team 2015 – 2017
- San Geronimo Valley Lions 2010 – 2015
- Hannah Project Gallery 2014 – 2017
- American Heart Association 2012 – 2018
- Tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou (Licensed) 2015 – 2018
- Performances @ San Geronimo Community Center, Lagunitas School,
- Ruby Bridges School (Alameda, CA), Hannah Project Gallery (Marin City, CA (2)), Geoffrey’s Inner Circle ( Oakland, CA) & Back Room Music (Berkeley, CA).
Along with her many artistic talents, Mwanza is an Ambassador for the America Heart Association and currently can be seen on Billboards throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as part of their Ad Campaign, a San Geronimo Valley Lion and volunteers for the Project Homeless Connect. She is also an avid gardener; the flowers above are from her own garden.