Much is made of the universally transforming power of music and it’s all true. Stella experienced it and you will too, even if nothing much ails you. The grand dame of mbira music from Zimbabwe, now 73 years old, broke into musical territory that was stoutly male-dominated 40 years ago. (For instance, she was refused the appropriate instrument…). No easy feat also because of rebellious Stella’s open-minded affinity for the rock’n’roll of Elvis, The Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson a.o. …
Originated by the Zimbabwe tribe Shona and celebrated as part of their heritage, mbira music is named after the instrument that’s being put to astonishing use. It’s essentially a plucking medium; metal tines that look like spoons without the head are attached to a wooden board and brought to sound by raising them with forefingers and thumbs. The resulting timbre is clear, percussive, chime-like –and played fast! Bringing to mind the country’s fauna, flora and the sound of the winds rushing across the country’s famed desert, the mighty Kalahari.
Adventurous Stella ventured farther and merged ancient musical traditions with contemporary guitars, culminating in engaging dance grooves and popular songs but she doesn’t stray far from the mbira soul. Her art earned her recognition with a worldwide audience not least because of her 7 albums, her tireless touring and her recording dates with John Peele. Stella has won the 1993 Billboard Alternative World Music Award of the Year for her performance on the album Shungu (1990) and 2018 saw the release of Stella’s otherworldly album «Kashawa: Early Singles» on Glitterbeat. A fine dancer and actor, indomitable Stella is also cultural activist. She initiated the Chivanhu Project, a multi-disciplinary center that aims to stop the erosion of the ancestral cultures of Zimbawe and give new strength to the tradition of mbira music.
Stella Chiweshe. The healing power of music brought to you by El Lokal and the Gods of Africa.