By Novell Zwange – The feisty Zimbabwean mbira star Chiwoniso Maraire graces The Mannenberg stage this Thursday 4 November, for another great musical experience, in an intimate setting designed for a deeper appreciation of the art, and the essence of Chiwoniso.
After a short sojourn in the US, Chiwoniso is back in Zimbabwe with new energy, new compositions, delighting Harare audiences once again with her inimitable ‘modern spirit, ancient soul’. Backed by the mesmerizing interlocking melodies of the mbira, Chiwoniso’s voice resounds with defiant strength and profound tenderness. She has been described as one of the most exciting talents in African music today.
Chiwoniso’s 1998 CD ‘Ancient Voices’ won the Radio France International ‘discovery’ prize, and ‘Rebel Woman’ which was released in the US at the end of 2008, was highly acclaimed internationally, reaching and remaining at No 1 on the iTunes World Music awards for 18 weeks. The album is due for release in Zimbabwe soon.
The Thursday 4 November performance at The Mannenberg features two exciting sets, kicking off with ‘Vibe Culture’ comprising Martha Thom (hosho/dance), Jacob Mafuyeni (mbira, percussion, vocals), Silas Kamutikaoma (hosho and congas), Malvin Kujeke (double bass and backing vocals), mixed by engineer Takaendesa Maumbe.
The second set from around 11pm features the ‘electric band’, an electrifying fusion of traditional and modern vibes with guest artists Mono Mukundu (lead guitar), Clive Mutyasira (drums), Jethro ‘Hambahamba’ (keyboards), Josh Meck (bass), with the renowned sound engineer Vusa Moyo on the sound desk.
While resettling in Zimbabwe with shows in and around the capital, Chiwoniso has also been gracing other stages of the world, stepping out for concerts in the US and Europe, and a brilliant artistic collaboration in Tokyo in August with ‘SukiAfrica’ and the Sukiyaki All Stars, comprising artists from different cultures in Africa (Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Togo) and Asia (Korea, Japan).
Some of Chiwoniso’s earliest performances can be traced back to The Book Café in the nineties where, along with dozens of other artists and several who rose to national acclaim, she often performed at the original Bocapa Open Mic Monday event. After a lively association with the popular band ‘Storm’, Chiwoniso went solo with a long-running performance stint at The Book Café for several years with backing band ‘Vibe Culture’ where she built a solid and loyal audience who kept coming back for more.
In 2007, Chiwoniso facilitated a “Mbira Renaissance” workshop ‘for women artists by women artists’ under Pamberi Trust’s gender programme FLAME (Female Literary, Arts and Music Enterprise), sharing her experiences and discussing among other topics ‘Dynamic Culture’ and ‘Breaking Out’.
Back home for the Christmas season, Chiwoniso performs at The Mannenberg on Thursday 4 November, and on Friday 26 November in an awesome, never before seen, once-off show, Chiwoniso shares the stage with Victor Kunonga at Rainbow 7 Arts Theatre.