29:11 International Exchange brings African music traditions to Harding High School in St. Paul

The Minnesota-based vocal ensemble 29:11 International Exchange recently presented a fantastic display of African-rooted music and traditions to the enthusiastic students of Harding High School in St. Paul.

The group, co-founded by husband and wife Brendon and Gaylene Adams, is made up of eight singers and four instrumentalists who hail from South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their songs tap into their shared culture to, as Brendon Adams says, “spread love and reconciliation through our music.”

29:11’s visit to Harding, which was coordinated by YourClassical MPR in collaboration with its Class Notes program, included a workshop with choir students, in which the singers taught the teens a song in Zulu, and two energetic performances in the school’s auditorium.

Enjoy these three songs from 29:11’s first concert.


“Ndinguye,” which means “I Am,” is a traditional Xhosa song sung in honor of God. Its title is taken from a scripture in the Bible, Exodus 3:14, where God appears to Moses as the burning bush. God tells Moses that he must go to the pharaoh and tell Egypt’s ruler to let his people go. When Moses expresses fear of not knowing what to say, God instructs him to tell them “I am who I am” has sent you. This infectious performance had the Harding students clapping and dancing.

‘Mkhululi weZoni’

"Mkhululi weZoni," which means “Savior of All Sinners” in Zulu, is a simple Zion Church sing-along song. Drummer Siyathemba Sotshononda is the featured vocalist.


This song, which is sung in IsiZulu and roughly translates as “Stores,” is usually heard at wedding celebrations in South Africa. It would typically be sung by the parents of the bride, saying they sent their daughter to the store and instead she met up with boys, according to Adams: “You might be sent to the store, and you might just meet your future spouse; you never know what could happen.”

The featured vocalist is Siyasanga Mpondo. While she sings, she does a traditional dance called Indlamu, which is performed by Zulu girls at rituals or celebrations.


29:11 International Exchange: ⁠Brendon Adams (artistic director); Elijah Buba; Manasse Kaoma; Skyleigh Kennedy; Zoe Mgxaji; Bonisa Mlondleni; Siyasanga Mpondo; ⁠Xolisa Ngculu; Bontle Nxoyi; Roshane Solomons; and Siyathemba Sotshononda.

For YourClassical MPR: Produced by Randy Salas, with Ines Guanchez and Jenny Cvek; video by Jon Reynolds of Venn Design & Media, with audio by Mike Hallenbeck of Cool Cat Audio.

Recorded March 21, 2024, at Harding High School, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Thanks to James Yao of Harding High School and Katie Condon of YourClassical MPR’s Class Notes.

All songs © 29:11 International Exchange. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment‘s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.