Following the release earlier this month of her explosive new CD, “Rebel Woman,” Zimbabwean singer Chiwoniso makes her Ashkenaz debut Friday, September 26, leading eight-member band Vibe Culture. Her music combines ancient and modern sounds as she sings in English and African languages and uses both traditional and electric instruments in her songs of struggle, peace, and love. Chiwoniso plays mbira, the thumb piano at the heart of Zimbabwean Shona traditional music, and hosho, the gourd maraca, with her sister Tawona on backing vocals, a second mbira player, rhythm section, and percussion.
Although Rebel Woman is her second American CD, Chiwoniso comes from a well-known musical family and has been performing most of her 32 years. Born in Olympia, Washington, Chiwoniso Maraire grew up hearing music from her father, Zimbabwean master musician Dumisani Maraire, and singing mother Linda Nemarundwe Maraire. “Musical instruments were a core element of my childhood,” Chiwoniso recalls. “By the age of four I was playing mbira. ‘Tichazomuona,’ my first recording with my parents, was released when I was nine.” The family relocated to Zimbabwe in 1990, and by the time she was in her teens Chiwoniso was a member of various bands and African hip-hop groups, traveling through Africa and Europe, winning international music contests.
She put out her own first CD, “Ancient Voices,” in 1995, backed by members of Zimbabwean band Andy Brown and the Storm. From 2001 to 2004, she was in multinational all-women’s band Women’s Voice, whose members hailed from Norway, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, America, Israel, and Algeria. Chiwoniso has also been busy in film, having worked on the soundtracks for movies and documentaries by an array of Zimbabwean writers and film producers in the last ten years. For the last four years she has concentrated on her solo career and leading Vibe Culture.
Buy the CD:
Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center
1317 San Pablo Ave. at Gilman Berkeley, CA 94702
Doors at 9:00 p.m.; Show at 9:30 p.m.
$15/$12 advance & students