Stella Chiweshe



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About Stella Chiweshe

Her Majesty – The Queen of Mbira music from Zimbabwe – like Stella Rambisai Chiweshe is often 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 large 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 35 years is working in the role of traditional Mbira musician. Stella Rambisai Chiweshe is nicknamed “Ambuya Chinyakare” (Grandmother of Traditional Music). She is a well respected and important woman in the music business too, where bands perform at festivals, in theatres, churches and night clubs. 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 popular music to show the deepness 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. She creates warm dance grooves as well as popular songs always based on Mbira rhythms. The fusion of Chiweshe’s music and contemporary guitars, has not only made her an international figure, but also as Zimbabwe’s cultural Ambassador.

Apart from her merit combining Mbira with Marimba in modern Zimbabwean music, she is touring Europe regularly since 1983 and has released seven internationally successful albums ( Ndizvozvo Ambuya, 1987 – Chisi, 1989 – Kumusha, 1991, Shungu, 1994, Talking Mbira 2003 and Double Check 2006. Kumusha track has won her a 1993 Billboard Music Award for performance on the Adult/ Alternative/ World Music Album of the year) In 2003 she was honored by her people with a “Masters Degree in Arts” from the University of Zimbabwe. In 2005 for The Zimbabwe Music Silver Jubilee Awards (ZIMA) she won in two categories, for being the, ‘Best Female Mbira Player’ and the ‘Most Outstanding Female Contribution to The Music Industry’. She won ‘The National Arts Council Merits Award. In 2006. (NAMA)

Stella Chiweshe started to perform solo in ceremonies and on stage, in Zimbabwe her homeland, Mozambique, Congo Brazzaville, Zanzibar, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech- Republic, Slovenia, Serbia, India, China, North Korea, England, Ireland, Orkney Islands, France, Turkey, Greece, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, North America, Canada, Canary Islands, and Croatia to name a few.

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