Draze was born to win. "Born to Win" is the title of his latest single, but it is also the truth of his life.
Born Dumisani Maraire Jr., he is the son of two renowned master performers of the Shona culture of Zimbabwe. His father Abraham Dumisani Maraire Sr. is known for introducing mbira music to North America with numerous recordings to his credit in addition to having been a legendary teacher of the Shona music and culture at the University of Washington and Evergreen State College. His mother, Lora (Sukutai) Chiorah Dye, also from Zimbabwe, holds legendary status as the creator of Sukutai Marimba and Dance Ensemble, whose decades-long imprint is part of the historical signature of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center where she taught and performed, embracing generations of students and leading them in the culture, music, and dance of the Shona. Langston Hughes also provided the stage where Draze honed his craft.
The stages that now host the talent of Draze have become much bigger and truly global.
Draze carries on the legacy the entire Maraire family has left and continues to make in Seattle. Having grown up in Seattle’s hip-hop culture, it didn’t take long for his lyrical and musical genius to rise to the top. Draze is currently being celebrated for the ways he modernizes the mbira and marimba while infusing new spirit into contemporary musical performance. His music has been featured in popular television shows and promotional ads for major brands including Love & Hip Hop, Empire, the Masked Singer, NBA TV, Inventing Anna, and more. So far, Draze has credits in over 100 television, film, and commercial ads making him a much sought-after Hollywood writer. But his Seattle home remains high on his list for musical tribute.
Growing up within and as a part of Seattle’s Black community, the Central District, and the South End, Draze offers bright observations on the changes to his once familiar environment that have become foreign as a result of gentrification and development. In his 2016 tune, The Hood Ain’t The Same his lyrics give life to the thoughts and feelings of many of the now displaced residents and business owners who found themselves without a community sense of place and belonging. The music video for the song premiered at that year’s Through the Eyes of Art event at MoPOP, which is also spearheaded annually by Draze.
Just last month, Draze earned Emmy recognition along with the Seattle Black-owned Converge Media team, who received the Governor’s Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. His music is the featured signature opening for The Morning Update show on Converge.
Draze has built on his music gravitas to call attention to the power of Black wealth, through his Building Black Wealth program that went from a song to a call to action, intended to provide a practical pathway towards preservation and prosperity in Black communities. His ongoing partnership with boxing champion Laila Ali brought the two together for a Juneteenth Virtual Black Business Marketplace Experience showcasing products and services from African American-owned businesses across the country on Facebook Live, and this year featured some of our Seattle favorites as well.
In this small amount of space, the full story of the Draze Experience is impossible to document. It is so more than a traditional, “hometown kid makes it big” story. Draze represents the cloth from which he is cut no matter where he is or what he is doing. Seattle is in his heart, in his music, and always on his mind. This year in celebration of Black Music Month, we lift our gratitude to our hometown hero, Draze Dumasani Maraire, Jr. Well done!
Learn more about Draze and his talents here