The John Lennon Education Tour Bus

Next Destination:


Press Releases


John Lennon Educational Tour Bus Presents Bi-Coastal Appearances from
King George VI School for Disabled

Liyana, the musical group from Zimbabwe ranging in age from 17-23, are extraordinary not only because of their remarkable talent, but also due to the fact that each member was born with severe physical disabilities. The Afro-fusion group makes its first visit to the United States in January 2009, performing at NAMM and Macworld on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus stage, at Disneyland, Stanford University, visiting Los Angeles to work with celebrated artists and producers, performing at the House of Blues in conjunction with the House of Blues Foundation, and then traveling to the New York region for additional performances at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, and will be on stage at a very special evening at Rodeph Shalom synagogue in New York in a program organized with Riverside Church. In conjunction with the mission of the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Liyana will collaborate with students on high school and university campuses in each market they visit.

Band members are affiliated with King George VI, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, a country where disability is often viewed as a sign of witchcraft. Ms. Inez Hussey, director of KGVI, has instilled the mantra that music is a powerful tool for self discovery and expression.  “Ms. Hussey hung a poster on the wall that said, ‘Music cheers you up. If you listen to music, you can handle your problems’” said Prudence Mabhena, lead singer of Liyana, “and music has truly changed all of our lives’.

Prudence Mabhena is the most experienced member of Liyana (which means “it’s raining” in Ndebele and represents good luck), having previously won awards and recognition as lead singer of the group Inkonjane.  She has written songs for the Ms. Malaika competition, assisted as writer, performer, and coach in the production of a dramatic video to be used in AIDS education of deaf people in Zimbabwe. And, despite her lack of mobility, she worked with deaf students to produce both traditional and foreign dances. Prudence also worked in Switzerland with the Hora Theatre and has performed with Mexican opera singer Encarnación Vázquez.

The seven other band members specialize in marimbas, African drums, shakers, keyboard and piano. Their music reflects their various home regions. Leading critics and fans categorize their music as ‘Afro-fusion’, ‘World-fusion’, or ‘Global-music.’ Liyana’s music fuses many genres from gospel to reggae to traditional Zimbabwean Shona music.  Liyana performs in Shona and Ndebele, Prudence’s native tongue, and in 5 additional languages – English, Dutch, German, Hebrew and Spanish. 
In 2006, Liyana won the Crossroads Africa inter-regional music festival in Mozambique. The Zimbabwe Independent wrote, “Liyana has defied their physical challenges and turned them into triumph following the group’s …month-long European tour that took them to Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands….  This group has a bright future.” In July 2007, as featured performers at the Bulawayo Theatre, Liyana concluded with appropriately titled Never Give Up. At the same time, a DVD of the band’s most popular song, Umntwana weQhawe (Son of a Hero), full of the Ndebele click, was filmed. 

Liyana is the subject of a new documentary, Ithemba, to be released worldwide in 2009. 

About the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus
The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a non-profit state-of-the-art mobile Pro Audio and HD video recording facility that provides hands-on experiences for students of all ages. In its 12th year of touring, the Bus boasts the latest audio and video technology, gear and products. The studios travel across the U.S. and Canada year-round, providing free tours and workshops at schools, retailers, festivals, on tours with headlining artists, and at major industry conferences. The Lennon Bus, a 501(c)(3) venture, is made possible through the generosity of sponsors including Maxell Corporation, Apple, NAMM, Sony, Roland, Rock Band 2, Godin Guitars, Edirol by Roland, Sibelius, Digital Media Academy, Audio-Technica, Sonicbids, Digidesign, Aphex Systems, Musician’s Friend, Neutrik, Glyph Technologies, Ampeg, Ableton, Mackie, Crate, Apogee, Disc Makers, Antares, Bogen Imaging, IK Multimedia, McDSP, Ultimate Support, PureVolume.com, Planet Waves, Music Player Network, Native Instruments, Boss, Noise Industries, and Litepanels.  The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is made possible by an agreement with Yoko Ono Lennon.

About the PG Family Foundation (PGFDN)
The PG Family Foundation (PGFDN) is a 501-c-3 organization with a special commitment to venture philanthropy, and a mission focused on Education, the Arts, Health, and Human Services. Led by Jonathan Plutzik, retired Vice Chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston, and Wall Street Executive Lesley Goldwasser, recipient of a 2006 Leadership Award from the National Organization for Women, PGFDN collaborates on projects of critical importance to underserved and marginalized communities, domestically and internationally. PGFDN has recently been recognized for its groundbreaking ZARA Center program in Zimbabwe that provides respite care and education to children and families impacted by AIDS. PGFDN served as Executive Producer of the Liyana 2009 USA Tour.

Something like this should be parked outside of every school in America.

- Vernon Reid, Living Colour

The Headlines

Video aboard the Bus

The increasing accessibility of digital technology has led to an amazing expansion of opportunity in the art of digital storytelling. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus has been at the forefront of this new media explosion, having produced daily video projects with students since January of 2001. The Lennon Bus puts state-of-the-art digital video equipment into the hands of workshop participants and teaches the entire digital workflow from storyboarding to web publication and DVD burning. Students leave the experience having shot, chopped, scored, and (most importantly) finished an entire digital video production. Using the latest cameras and professional hardware/software solutions including Avid Media Composer and Pro Tools, participants are exposed to the exciting world of digital videography and learn hot techniques of the trade. The accessibility of professional-quality technology is making it possible for millions of new voices to be heard and the John Lennon Bus is putting these tools into the hands of tomorrow's great digital producers. Subscribe to our Youtube channel so you never miss any of the amazing videos produced on the Lennon Bus.