Chartwell Dutiro, Zimbabwean musician and musicologist, lives in Britain. He sings, writes and plays music with his group Spirit Talk Mbira. He also teaches at London University and gives workshops worldwide.
Chartwell Dutiro used traditional music with words in Shona to protest against stale authority and the oppression of colonialism, which has left a strong mark on him. His family was relocated into a protected village when he was very young.
Chartwell Dutiro’s first-name was given to him by missionaries when he was a child, although his original name is Shorai, which means ̶You can underestimate me if you wish”. Chartwell began playing the mbira at four, although the traditional instrument was banned at that time. Later he played the mbira for a spiritualist. He also took up the saxophone.
Just like his instrument, the Mbira, is used to call the spirits during traditional ceremonies, Chartwell Dutiro calls for guidance from the spirits of the soil and sings that the oppressors have made it hard to survive, but then the reformer does not swim with the current”. His musical fame spread and, one day, he teamed up with Zimbabwean celebrity Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited. This turned into an eight-year musical partnership.
Chartwell has been in Britain for six years. His music emphasizes spirituality but also has political messages. The song ‘Gamura makaka, that he recorded for Refugee Voices ‘ is about old men bossing people around and stale authority. He believes in the power of music: “I think music can bring people together. The moment we start playing music language doesn’t matter, the language is in the music”.
It’s too much, old men bossing people around Their presence is an overbearing weight to our hearts Here, there, and even there, you are the boss!
But I have got my arrow to serve as my word
Dendere Ngoma (2010)