The 71-year old Stella Chiweshe is Zimbabwe's internationally most prolific performer, being a prominent star in the 1.0 days of "world music" in the 1980es and early 90es. Since then, things have been getting a bit quiet around the "queen", which is currently changing for good, since Stella is still a breathtakingly powerful and highly spiritual performer... her traditional "Mbira" music (the word is both categorizing the instrument and the style) is a medium to establish contact with the spirits of the deceased ancestors and thus also able to bring about community among the listeners. Her recent November 2017 tour also functioned as a fundraiser for a center of traditional music Stella is currently building from scratch just outside of Harare! Highlights were gigs at key venues and festivals such as Café OTO, Holland's Le Guess Who Festival? or Berlin's new feminist We Make Waves Festival.
Her Majesty - The Queen of Mbira music from Zimbabwe - like Stella Rambisai Chiweshe is affectionately called, is the first female artist who gained in prestige and has been honored with recognition in a music tradition that's been dominated by men: in Mbira music - known as the backbone of Zimbabwean music. The mbira consists of 22 to 28 metal keys mounted on a hardwood soundboard and is usually placed inside a gourd resonator (deze). The keys are played with the two thumbs plucking down and the right forefinger plucking up.
She is one of the few musicians in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, who since more than 40 years is working in the role of traditional Mbira musician. She is a well respected and important woman in the music business too, where bands perform at festivals, in theatres, churches, schools, community halls as well as in families homes for their ancestors. She set an example for the rest of the women musicians in Zimbabwe. She is a professional artist, in the entertainment industry and in the international music circuit. In Zimbabwe, she released more than 20 singles of Mbira music of which her first single Kasahwa went gold in 1975.
After Independence, she was invited to become a member of the original National Dance Company of Zimbabwe, where she soon took the part of a leading Mbira Solo player, dancer, and actress. Her Solo work has established herself as one of the most original artists in the contemporary African scene using mbira music to show the depth and power of her traditional spiritual music at home and abroad.
Chiweshe's experience has been stimulating her to introduce Mbira music to the occidental context without losing the relation to her Zimbabwean tradition. Since then she has won several awards in her country. In 2003 the University of Zimbabwe honored her with the Master's Degree in Arts.
Stella Chiweshe started to perform solo in ceremonies around Zimbabwe in the early 1970es.
From 1982 she toured internationally, having performed in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Congo Brazzaville, Zanzibar. Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech-Republic, Slovenia, Serbia, India, China, Korea, England, Ireland, France, Orkney Islands, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, USA, Spain and Canary Islands, and in Croatia.