chiwoniso_largeChiwoniso Maraire (Born in 1976 in Olympia, Washington, U.S.) is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and exponent of Zimbabwean mbira music. She is the daughter of famed mbira master Dumisani Maraire.

On the album Ancient Voices (produced 1995) she melds the conventional and modern, sings in English and African languages, and uses contemporary instruments and traditional African instruments such as the mbira. She learned how to play the instrument despite the fact that traditionally, women in Zimbabwe were not permitted to play it. The mbira, she says, "Is like a large xylophone. It is everywhere in Africa under different names: sanza, kalimba, etc. For us in Zimbabwe it is the name for many string instruments. There are many kinds of mbiras. The one that I play is called the nyunga nyunga, which means sparkle-sparkle." [1]

Chiwoniso has been fronting her acoustic group Chiwoniso & Vibe Culture for several years. From 2001 to 2004, she was also a core member of the multinational all-women band Women’s Voice, whose original 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. [2] She also narrated a feature documentary Liemba released in 2010.

In February 2006, she joined Busi Ncube, Adam Chisvo, Peter "Mashasha" Mujuru and many others Zimbabwean artists in an ad-hoc band called The Collaboration and recorded Hupenyu Kumusha, Life at Home, Impilo Ekhaya. The band performed in Zanzibar's Sauti za Busara 2007 Festival.

In September 2008, Chiwoniso released her fourth album and first international album in over ten years, Rebel Woman. The album perfectly mirrors Chiwoniso's life in the way that she sings about her personal experiences. From her own spirituality to a passerby on the street, every song in Rebel Woman was influenced by a specific event in her life. Recognizing that artists play an important role in society, this masterful album speaks out in support of every issue Chiwoniso has witnessed, regardless of the consequences. She blends ancient, African soul, with modern spirit accompanied by the melodies of the mbira and deep grooves. (Wikipedia)


Being West  African, the Mbira wasn't an instrument I grew up with , but rather an instrument that I was introduced to in the United States.  Just as the drum calls to a lot of West Africans and invites us to dance, the mbira (that strange stringed instrument) called to me.  Chiwoniso Maraire, is one of the few young female artists that comfortably mixes mbira sounds to her music. This is more of an introduction to those from other regions of Africa  to this artist  who is a big deal in the genre of world music.

Ancient voices is a tale of wars, ancestors and courage.  I hope you go seeking for more songs from this great artist.

Please note  - there won't be any fresh vibes Monday on 11/21/11 but everything will continue on from Tuesday.

Have a wonderful weekend - I will certainly enjoy mine!