Really happy to have had Ambuya Stella Chiweshe join us at Cafe OTO last November. Here she shares three parts of the night - an a capella call to her homeland of Zimbabwe, a new track accompanied by her mbrira, and a slow, rhythmic version of one of her most well-loved songs, 'Chachimurenga'. Chiweshe sings with great strength, soothes with the mbira and continues to expand on tradition in new, inventive ways.
Stella Chiweshe / vocals, mbira
1. One - 7:08
2. Two - 13.01
3. Three - 27:19
Recorded live at Cafe OTO by Shaun Crook on Tuesday 28th November 2017. Mixed & mastered by James Dunn. Photo by Felipe Vasquez and artwork by Oli Barratt.
Available as 320k MP3 or 24bit FLAC
Her Majesty - The Queen of Mbira music from Zimbabwe - like Stella Rambisai Chiweshe is affectionately called, is the first female artist who gained in prestige and has been honoured with recognition in a music tradition that's been dominated by men: in Mbira music - known as the backbone of Zimbabwean music. The mbira consists of 22 to 28 metal keys mounted on a hardwood soundboard, and is usually placed inside a gourd resonator (deze). The keys are played with the two thumbs plucking down and the right forefinger plucking up.
She is one of the few musicians in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, who since more than 40 years is working in the role of traditional Mbira musician. She is a well respected and important woman in the music business too, where bands perform at festivals, in theatres, churches, schools, community halls as well as in families homes for their ancestors. She set an example for the rest of the women musicians in Zimbabwe. She is a professional artist, in the entertainment industry and in the international music circuit. In Zimbabwe she released more than 20 singles of Mbira music of which her first single Kasahwa went gold in 1975.
After Independence, she was invited to become a member of the original National Dance Company of Zimbabwe, where she soon took the part of a leading Mbira Solo player, dancer and actress. Her work will always be remembered. Her Solo work has established herself as one of the most original artists in the contemporary African scene using mbira music to show the depth and power of her traditional spiritual music at home and abroad.
Chiweshe's experience has been stimulating her to introduce Mbira music to the occidental context without loosing the relation to her Zimbabwean tradition. Since then she has won several awards in her country. In 2003 the University of Zimbabwe honoured her with the Masters Degree in Arts.