Category Mix CDs

Commission your own custom mix CD

Since 2005 I have been curating and designing custom mix CDs under the Wimbo Zuri imprint. Wimbo Zuri—which means “Beautiful Song” in Swahili—offers music lovers who want to commission a special, personalized gift for their significant others, family members, or friends. A typical Wimbo Zuri mix includes songs selected for their musical, lyrical, cultural, and historic quality. A typical mix features songs spanning several decades, in several languages, joined together by a common theme.

Mix CD | Wisconsionable!

Wimbo Zuri Catalog No. 055.1A10-1

From the 50 States! series of CDs, commissioned for three friends with Wisconsin connections. Challenges for this mix included keeping the dairy references to a minimum, and figuring out how to make Liberace, arguably the most important pop artist to come out of the state, play nice with everyone else.

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Commission your own custom Wimbo Zuri mix CD.

Mix CD | NY/ROBI

Wimbo Zuri Catalog No. 054.1A10-1

This past October I attended the Manhattan wedding of pair of wonderful Kenyan-based friends. This CD came together as part of my preparations for my journey east from Portland. Though it almost qualifies as a member of the 50 States! series, in the end I tried to focus on the tensions and the connections between Africa and New York. The mix revolves around two versions of the Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji’s “Akiwowo,” which was covered by French pop icon/iconoclast Serge Gainsbourg as “New York USA,” wherein he replaces the original lyrics with what seems to be a list of random important buildings in 1960s Manhattan. Part of the irony is that “Akiwowo” itself was written in Manhattan, and is Olatunji’s nostalgic recollection of a train-driver he had known during his childhood.

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Commission your own custom Wimbo Zuri mix CD.

Mix CD | Washingtonic!

Wimbo Zuri Catalog No. 049.1A09-1

From the 50 States! series of CDs, commissioned for a friend who works in the Skagit Valley, north of Seattle. This mix is notable both for including references to parts of the state far from Puget Sound (Spokane, Pullman), and for including exactly zero grunge tracks, no small feat.

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Commission your own custom Wimbo Zuri mix CD.

Mix CD | Marylanderful!

Wimbo Zuri Catalog No. 049.1A09-1

From the 50 States! series of CDs, commissioned to celebrate a good friend’s sitting for the Maryland bar exam. Fun fact: there are a lot of great songs about Baltimore, but they tend to be kind of negative about the city. Design-wise, I worked to make the pattern more complex, adding an assortment of black-eyed susans (state flower) over a background inspired by the decor of the funeral parlor hideout in the later seasons of The Wire.

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Commission your own custom Wimbo Zuri mix CD.

Mix CD | Celestial Objects

Wimbo Zuri Catalog No. 055.1A10-1

A custom mix commissioned for the birthday of a fellow historian of science and longtime astronomy buff. The 19 tracks correspond to the 19 brightest visible objects in the sky, from the sun through the moon and satellites down to some of the brighter stars. I designed the CD case so it doubled as a star finder, with a celestial wheel printed onto the disc itself, and a horizon cutout in the front cover.

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Commission your own custom Wimbo Zuri mix CD.

Mix CD | District of Columbulous!

Wimbo Zuri Catalog No. 049.1A09-1

From the 50 States! series of CDs, created after the subjects of Connexcellent! mix moved south to the national Capital. The background pattern for the cover is probably the least visually striking of the series, but it is a faithful reproduction of the striped upholstered armchairs in the Bush/early Obama-era Oval Office.

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Commission your own custom Wimbo Zuri mix CD.

Mix CD | Birdsongs/Songbirds


Some friends of mine commissioned a 60th birthday gift for their father, an avid birdwatcher. The three-disc set featured 60 songs about 60 bird species.

Mix CD | The Mix Who Knew Too Much

Wimbo Zuri Catalog No. 048.1A09-1

The challenge I gave myself for this one: reference as many Alfred Hitchcock film titles as possible without having the music slide entirely into a stew of murder and terror and deep discomfort. For the most part it worked out. I’m still not satisfied with the visual side of the design—an uneasy riffing on Saul Bass’s title credits for Vertigo and North by Northwest, but I did enjoy working the director’s famous profile into the Wimbo Zuri icon.

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Commission your own custom Wimbo Zuri mix CD.

Mix CD | Hope Is Just Another Word for Love

Wimbo Zuri Catalog No. 046.1A09-1

For the past several years, my friend Robyn has taken part part in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Colorado. I designed this mix CD, of peppy, hopeful, walk-appropriate songs, for her to use as a giveaway to her most generous donors. The creative commons-licensed cover photo is from flickr user riot jane.

Commission your own custom Wimbo Zuri mix CD.