The queen of Zimbabwean Mbira music, STELLA CHIWESHE is a breathtakingly powerful and highly spiritual performer.
The mbira – the backbone of Zimbabwean music – consists of metal keys mounted on a hardwood soundboard, and is plucked with two thumbs and forefinger.
Performing as a Mbira musician for over 35 years, Stella Chiweshe learned her craft at a time when it was not only forbidden for a woman to play the instrument, but when the colonial regime banned any traditional instruments, songs or ceremonies.
As the first female artist to gain prestige and recognition in a music tradition dominated by men, Chiweshe is a trailblazer.
Her work has established her in the contemporary African scene, showing the depth and power of the spiritual Mbira tradition at home and abroad.
Chiweshe’s international breakthrough debut album of 1987, Amuya? was re-released this year on Piranha records.
It includes a BBC Radio 1 John Peel session from 1988 as well as a title change from Ambuya? (meaning grandmother?) to Ambuya! – an affirmation that she is also the ‘grandmother of the mbira’.
“Haunting and full of raw emotion”Popmatters