Charles Zawose

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As the longtime accompanist and right-hand man of his uncle, Dr. Hukwe Zawose, singer and multi-instrumentalist Charles Zawose was a pivotal component of the family whose music virtually defined the rich…
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Artist Biography by

As the longtime accompanist and right-hand man of his uncle, Dr. Hukwe Zawose, singer and multi-instrumentalist Charles Zawose was a pivotal component of the family whose music virtually defined the rich creative traditions of their native Tanzania. Charles Zawose was born in Wakili, Tanzania on July 3, 1970 -- while his own family toiled on their farm, his uncle Hukwe earned international renown alongside Dickson Mkwama and Lubeleje Chiute in the Master Musicians of Tanzania. After the deaths of Mkwama and Chiute, Hukwe handpicked Charles as his new collaborator and protégé -- mastering the ilimba (thumb piano) and the izeze (traditional fiddle) in addition to contributing vocal harmonies, Charles proved the ideal counterpoint for his uncle's larger-than-life on-stage theatrics and otherworldly five-octave voice. Together they were staples at world music festivals, and in 2002 opened for Peter Gabriel on his Growing Up world tour -- Hukwe and Charles also recorded for Gabriel's Real World label, with 2002's Mkuki Wa Rocho heralding Charles' debut as a songwriter on "Tumieni Ujuzi." He also led his own 14-piece group African Fire. Following Hukwe's 2003 death, Charles began work on his debut solo LP -- the project remained uncompleted at the time of his sudden, AIDS-related death on October 24, 2004.