We are honoured to welcome Stella Chiweshe, the Mbira Queen of Zimbabwe, to our stage this summer.
Stella is the first female artist who gained recognition in a music tradition that’s been dominated by men: in Mbira music, known as the backbone of Zimbabwean music.
For part of her 35 year career, Stella had to keep her talent secret, as the Rhodesian colonial government of the time had declared the whole country as a Christian land and traditional instruments and songs were banned; playing Mbira was punished with prison.
Before independence she released more than 20 singles of Mbira music, of which her first single ‘Kasahwa’ went gold in 1975. She is nicknamed “Ambuya Chinyakare” (Grandmother of Traditional Music), and continues to set an unwavering example for the rest of the women musicians in Zimbabwe as the country’s cultural ambassador.
Her solo work has established herself as one of the most original artists in the contemporary African scene using popular music to show the deepness and power of her traditional spiritual music at home and abroad.
Described by BBC World News as the ‘diva of the Sudanese desert’, Sudanese-Italian singer Amira Kheir will be opening the show following the release of her critically lauded album Mystic Dance last year.