BY AGATHA CHUMA IT’s now nine years since the death of mbira guru player, Chiwoniso Maraire, who was known and praised for modernising the ancient instrument which had traditionally been monopolised by male musicians.
And to celebrate her good work, her daughter Chengeto Brown will this Sunday host a tribute show dubbed A Night of Ancient Voices at Ela the Garden, Newlands, Harare.
Maraire was a Zimbabwean singer, songwriter and practitioner of mbira music who died in 2013. She was born in Olympia, Washington in the United States of America and began playing the mbira at the age of four. When she was nine, she recorded her first album with her parents, Dumisani Maraire and Linda Nemarundwe Maraire. Chiwoniso was married to Andy Brown, with whom she had two daughters, Chengeto and Chiedza. Her songs frequently dealt with social and political issues, and in collaborations involving hip-hop or jazz. She also contributed to the creation of soundtracks for films and documentaries.
Some of her popular tracks include Mai, Nhemamusasa, Iwai Nesu, Ancient Voices, Tamari, Wandirasa, Look to the Spirit, Madame 20 Cents, The Way of Life and Everyone’s Child.
Although born in the United States, she chose to live in Africa and popularised the mbira.
Through her manager Allan Mapani, Chengeto told NewsDay Life & Style that it was necessary to host the show for a woman who she was privileged to call mother.
“A Night of Ancient Voices is an event meant to celebrate Chiwoniso Maraire and who she was as an icon in this music industry and as an artiste in Zimbabwe,” she said.
“It was inspiring to grow up with a great example of how music should be executed and how to connect with people in a meaningful way. Fans can expect a night of music celebrating Chiwoniso amongst artistes that shared her musical journey with her. A memorable night ahead it is.”
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Clive Mono Mukundu, who is part of the line-up for the show, said Maraire was, indeed, a patriotic artiste who deserved to be celebrated.
“Although she was born in the US, she chose to promote our local music. She had every excuse to ignore Zimbabwean music just like what other artistes are doing, but she chose to represent her culture. I learnt a lot of lessons including to appreciate others and to be a straightforward person which is one of the characters she portrayed. I’m very humbled and happy to be performing on Sunday at her tribute show,” Mukundu said.
Afro fusion group Gwevedzi, which fuses mbira in its sounds, also echoed Mukundu saying they have learnt to be proud of their roots and music just like what Maraire, who inspired them to become proud of local instruments which made them realise that mbira can be played to words in a foreign language.
“She was born in America but stayed glued to her roots and we appreciate her music intellect,” the group said.
Jacob Mafuleni, who worked with Maraire and is part of the performers, said: “Chiwoniso taught us love, unity and oneness. She also encouraged us how to love our families because she really loved her daughters. My wife Martha Mafuleni was the first one to work with Chiwoniso, then I joined them a few years later and it was fruitful working with her. Her performance meant life to us because we always get to put food on the table after we get our payments from her. I say rest in eternal peace my sister.”
Artistes lined up for the show are Bryan K, Chengeto Brown, The clef Music, Gwevedzi, Jacob Mafuleni, Mono Mukundu, Tendex, Tony Capone, Ulenni Okanflovu, Victor Kunonga and Wowrae Percussion.
- Follow Agatha on Twitter@AgathaChuma