Stella Chiweshe is the Mbira Queen of Zimbabwe. The mbira, a thumb piano, made of 22 to 28 metal keys,
mounted on wood and placed inside a gourd as a means of resonator, is an integral part of Shona culture. It
is traditionally used during ceremonies as a medium to communicate with the spirit of the ancestors.
In traditional Shona songs, the ancestors are called upon and are finally taking over the singing. Stella Chiweshe often
does not remember what has been sung through her.
Stella Chiweshe started performing at these kind of ceremonies before Zimbabwe's independence. At daytime, she worked
as a maid in a colonial household. In the early 1980s, she was invited to participate in the National Dance Company of
Zimbabwe where she was a solo mbira player as well as singer and dancer. After a while, she decided to perform
on her own, which was unseen before in Zimbabwe for a woman.
Since the late 1980s, she is regularly performing on World Music festivals, presenting both traditional mbira music
and more up-tempo songs with her own band The Earthquake. She has taken a leading role
in setting up the Zimbabwe Musicians Unions, and she is the director of the Mother Earth Trust - Network of Female
Artists in Zimbabwe.
• Musicians on 'Talking Mbira':
Stella Chiweshe lead vocal, mbira, drums, shakers, tracks 1-10;
Track 2 (recorded 1988 in Berlin):
Virginia M'Kwesha mbira, hosho, clapping, chorus
Leonard Ngwenya soprano marimba, chorus
Samson Mirazi baritone marimba, chorus
Sabah Habas Mustapha bass; Houzam Mustapha drum kits
Tracks 3-9 (recorded 1998 in Harare):
Alphias Chikazhe soprano marimba, chorus
Michael Kamunda alto marimba, chorus
Gordon Mapika drums
Ephraim Saturday lead guitar, chorus
Maruva Chikwatari hosho
Chinembiri Chidodo chidzimba percussion
Gilson Mangoma percussion, chorus
Leonard Ngwenya synthesizer, chorus
Washington Masango bass, chorus
Born: 1946, as Stella Rambisai Chiweshe, in Mujumi Village, Mhondoro, Zimbabwe
Style: mbira music