Cecile Kayirebwa

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The musical traditions of Rwanda provide the foundation for soulful vocalist and composer Cecile Kayirebwa. A founding member of the Rwanda Song and Dance Circle since 1961, Kayirebwa has continued her…
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The musical traditions of Rwanda provide the foundation for soulful vocalist and composer Cecile Kayirebwa. A founding member of the Rwanda Song and Dance Circle since 1961, Kayirebwa has continued her musical heritage as a member of Belgium-based African bands Bula Sangome and Arcadia and as a soloist. Kayirebwa's early interests in traditional music were strengthened when she traveled, as a welfare officer, to all regions of Rwanda. Leaving her native country, after her mother went to live with a Frenchman in the remote Belgian village of Lozere, Kayirebwa quickly adapted to her new home. Learning to speak French, she began performing French versions of tunes by Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Cliff in local discotheques. In 1983, she studied traditional music at the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Terveuren, Belgium. The following year, she joined Bula Sangoma. After recording a single, "Amour Sucre," with Arcadia, a bilingual group that she formed with a friend, Kayirebwa recorded her first album, Music From Rwanda, with accompaniment by Nzongo Soul. In addition to original songs, the album included Rwandan pop tunes and songs by Jean-Christophe Mutata. Kayirebwa has continued to use her music as a vehicle for attracting attention and raising funds for Hope, the Children of a Thousand Hills, a charity organization that she formed with Christine Coppel.