by Daniel Brown
Article published on the 2008-12-12 Latest update 2008-12-14 09:22 TU
Radio France International has been following the career of 32-year-old Chiwoniso for over a decade now. She is a compact yet slight singer that harbours a disarming smile behind her round glasses and short dreadlocks.
Her fourth international release, Rebel Woman, reflects Chi’s indomitable nature and talks of issues like equality, freedom and love.
There is a steely determination that she reveals in her latest album Rebel Woman. On it Chiwoniso composes, sings and plays the mbira. The plucky Zimbabwean has had to leave her country for personal and professional reasons. Now she is adapting to the challenging horizons of her place of birth, the United States, where she is fronting her acoustic group Chiwoniso & Vibe Culture.
Music is a family tradition for the Maraires. Chiwoniso’s father Dumisani Maraire was a musician and ethnomusicologist who allowed his children free rein to explore his instruments and their sounds. Chi often performs songs her father had done a generation earlier, including “Vanorapa”, the opening track on Rebel Woman.
But the mother-of-two has become a far greater ambassadress of mbira music than her father. In recent years, she has collaborated with the likes of Sinead O’Connor, Kris Kristofferson (for a Music Freedom Day launched by the NGO Freemuse) and Marie Boine.
More recently she recorded with the Zimbabwean white rastaman Comrade Fatso and his Chabvondoka band. Their duo “Bread and Roses” on the album House of Hunger is starting to make inroads on world music charts in Europe. Meanwhile, Chiwoniso is already reflecting on her follow-up album where she is likely to turn her critical eye to realities in her newly-adopted homeland.
This World Tracks was made partly thanks to publicist Simon Veyssière.
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