• Documentary film made by Laurel and Doug Epps at 8 p.m. Saturday
By Randi Somers
Laurel and Doug Epps are debuting their first documentary, “Soul Resonance” in the Homer Theatre’s DocFest this week.
The first showing of Soul Resonance is 8 p.m. Saturday, with a marimba jam to follow. In conjunction with the local marimba bands, Zimbabwean musician Tendai Muparutsa will perform. The second showing will be 4 p.m. Tuesday. The Epps will be at both showings to meet people and answer questions.
“There is a deep spiritual aspect to the ancient music that seems to resonate with the souls of people who hear it,” Laurel said.
The Epps became independent filmmakers after leaving Homer in 2007. But it was while living here that the couple developed a passion for marimba music. They got hooked on Zimbabwe music at Alice’s Champagne Palace in 2003.
“Doug’s heart was touched and our lives were changed forever when he started playing with Shamwari Marimba, one of several marimba ensembles in Homer,” Laurel recalled.
Traveling the Lower 48 for the past four years, they have been working on this documentary, which celebrates the spread of Zimbabwe music across North America for the past 40 years. It documents the infusion of this music into the American music scene through interviews with people from the 1970s to 1990s and attending concerts.
The roots of marimba are traced back to colonized Rhodesia at the turn of the 20th century.
“When the country (Zimbabwe) was called Rhodesia, a specific college was formed to teach Rhodesians more Westernized music, but they wanted to use a different instrument in order to do that,” Laurel said. “Marimbas were being played in neighboring countries, like Mozambique. They taught playing the instruments to music teachers and then to schools.”
Through an arts residency at the University of Washington, the first Zimbabwean musician was brought there in 1969-70. “Due to his charisma and personality, it just took off. It was like a pebble that was dropped in the water and it just kept spreading,” Laurel said.
This is one of the many stories detailed in the documentary, narrated by blues musician Taj Mahal. Muparutsa, one of the musicians featured in their documentary, recorded his arrangement of a traditional Zimbabwe song to accompany the movie’s opening scenes.
The movie-making talent arose from the Epps’ respective expertise. Doug’s background includes electronics engineering, being a commercial pilot and flight instructor. He worked for Smokey Bay Air in Homer for several years. He also has 25 years experience in designing and developing video equipment for use in industrial and broadcast applications. “He’s the total techie,” Laurel said.
“I’m the people person. It was my job to find the people to interview and then to make them feel comfortable,” she said. Laurel has a Master of Arts Degree in Fine Art. She owned the natural food store, Home Sweet Homer until 2004. At that time, she began creating art again and became part owner of the Old Inlet Printmaking Studio before leaving Homer at the end of 2006.
Their website, www.sacredpathexplorations.com, which is dedicated to spreading higher consciousness, grace and well being through the power of visual media, states: “since music is considered by many to be the breath of life, we use video and music to spread this consciousness and expand awareness.”
After their Alaska visit, they plan to return to their home in Pagosa Springs, Colo., on Oct. 5.
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