Stella Chiweshe

Ambuya?

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A singer from Zimbabwe, Stella Chiweshe is one of the few women who has mastered the mbira, an African thumb piano traditionally played by men. In Zimbabwe, the instrument is used in tribal spiritual music, and interestingly, it has also been embraced by some American jazz musicians. On Ambuya?, Chiweshe is joined by fellow mbira player Virginia Mkwesha and marimba players Samson Mirazi and Leonard Ngwena, as well as members of 3 Mustaphas 3 (an adventurous Western unit that has fused a wide variety of ethnic styles). Though this absorbing music shows her love of Zimbabwean traditions, Chiweshe isn't afraid of experimentation. Combining the mbira with marimbas, in fact, is unorthodox. Chiweshe, a passionate vocalist with a rough-edged vocal style, has commanded an appreciative following in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), and Ambuya? points to the fact that she should be heard by Western ears as well.

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