Stella Rambisai Chiweshe, the Mbira Queen of Zimbabwe
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 honored with recognition in a music tradition that's been dominated by men: in Mbira music - known as the backbone of Zimbabwean music.
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. When Zimbabwe was still a Rhodesian colony, Stella secretly was recognized as a Mbira player at forbidden ceremonies. Before independence Mbira instruments had to be kept hidden, because the colonial government had declared the whole country as a Christian land, traditional instruments and songs were banned. Playing Mbira was punished with prison. After playing through the whole night at forbidden reunions, Stella then returned to her every-day-struggle of survival as a young girl within a colonial environment.
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 in night clubs theatres and festivals. 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 before independence 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. Stella'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, when performing with her band.
The fusion of Stella'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 morden Zimbabwean music, she is touring Europe regularly since 1983 and has released seven internationally successful albums ( Ndizvozvo Ambuya, 1987 - Chisi, 1989 - Kumusha, 1991 and Shungu, 1994. Kumusha track has won her a 1993 Billboard Music Award for performance on the Adult/ Alternativ/ World Music Album of the year) -Shungu 1990,
The best of Stella Chiweshe: 1998 -The Healing Tree, 2001- Tapera, and 2002 -Talking Mbira.
Double-Check 2006, Ndondopetera 2007 and Kwoyedza 2014.