Stella Chiweshe

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.

Stella Chiweshe
  Stella Chiweshe   
• 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

Title Year Label Remarks
Double Check: Two Sides of Zimbabwe's Mbira Queen 2006 Piranha Records DCD-PIR1900 CD 1: Trance Hits - New Tracks recorded in 2005
CD 2: Classic Hits - Celebrated Tracks
Talking Mbira 2002 Piranha Records CD-PIR 1681
Healing Tree: Best of Stella Chiweshe 1997 Shanachie Records
Shungu 1994 Piranha Records CD-PIR 47-2
Kumusha 1991 Piranha Records CD-PIR 42
Chisi 1990 Piranha Records CD-PIR 27
Ambuya?/ Ndizvozvo 1987 Piranha Records CD-PIR 7 Also on Globestyle ORB 029 (1988)

Liner notes CD Talking Mbira
Page added June 2002