Stella Chiweshe's Biography

Stella Rambisai Chiweshe learned when it was forbidden for a woman to play the instrument and also the colonial regime had banned any cultural activities.
1966-1969 study years of mbira dzavadzimu  

In 1982 when ten of us women from the National Dance Co. were expected to have the best hair style I chose this one below. 

Below, on my right is my late brother Elfigio Chiweshe on arrival in Germany 1984.

Above: in 1987 from an all day photo session this photo was chosen for my first album Ambuya?

Above: in 1989 I was on stage solo in Cardiff/Wales.

Above: I love cowrie shells and am so happy to have found them.

Above: in 2001 a great show at Ufa Fabrik Berlin.  Its mbira who does it not me.


Above: This mbira was a gift  from  Dan Pauli of Santa Fe in New Mexico.

Above:2006 A show in Austria with the trio on my tribal drums.

1970-1973 Played in forbidden spiritual ceremonies under the danger of imprisonment through the colonial government before independence 1974, first recordings of her compositions with Teal Record Company of which her first single Kasahwa went gold.
1975 - 1978 recorded more than 20 singles with the same company but were never promoted.
1979 she started her band the Earthquake after the record company had refused to record Mbira.
1981 - 1985 She became a member of the National Dance Company of Zimbabwe as Mbira soloist, actress and dancer. Performed in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. India, China and Korea. She earned great success in a film where she played the role of Ambuya Nehanda - the national heroin of Zimbabwe, who was killed in 1896 by the colonial government.
1984 Solo tours in Germany, Great Britain, Italy, India, China, Korea, and concerts with her late brother Elfigio Chiweshe
1985 Tour throughout Europe with her daughter Virginia Mukwesha
1986 Introduction of marimba for Mbira music and toured Zimbabwe
1987 Recording and publication of "Ambuya?" with Piranha Records/Germany; triumphant concert at Hackney Empire/London and the Beat Apartheid Road Festival in Germany with two members of an English band the 3 Mustaphas 3.
1988 European tour with the Earthquake Band with shows in East Berlin for the "Festival des Politischen Liedes", West Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg.
1989 Publishing of "Ndizvozvo" TV feature "Rambisai - Music of the Ancestors"; She is the founder member of the "Mother Earth women’s group in Zimbabwe.
Led her first workshop with 100 women in Cardiff/South Wales as a teacher, and a European tour with the Earthquake Band same year...
1990 Publishing of "Chisi" with Piranha records for Europe and Japan, first release of "Ambuya?" for the USA. Her concert at the Heimatklänge-Festival in Berlin/Germany becomes the main act of the Festival. Concerts in Great Britain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Led a women's workshop in Arhus/Denmark "Body in Soul"
1991 First release of "Kumusha"; tour throughout Europe where she shared the stage with Mory Kante, Lucky Dube, Pepe Kalle, Empire Bakuba and John Peel Session.
1992-1993 Tour in Greece, Turkey and throughout Europe with the Earthquake band. Led a women's workshop "Unter Wasser Fliegen" in Wuppertal/Germany as a teacher.
1994 Publishing of "Shungu"; concerts in Germany and Great Britain. Solo tour in Norway, Finland and Sweden. Womad Festival with Peter Gabriel in North America, where she played solo in front of more than 10,000 people.
1995 Tour in Europe with concerts in Slovenia, Switzerland, Austria, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Hungary and Germany. Womad Festival in Australia with the "Trio"
1996 Tour in Europe with concerts in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Great Britain and Ireland with her mother on percussion and her "Mbira Ensemble" ( 5 musicians)
1997 Solo tour in Europe with concerts in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic.
1998 "Global Divas" tour in the USA sharing the stage with Susana Baca (Peru) and Tish Hinojosa (New Mexico) through more than 30 concerts. European tour and a number of radio recordings in the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany with the Trio.
Recording of CD "Tapera" in Zimbabwe with Gramma Records.
Collaboration project with "Bhatagumbo" - a group of senior ladies (55-80 years of age).
Stella created, directed ,choreographed and performed a theatre piece "Chiedza (light). Performed in Harare at the HIFA Festival with Bhatagumbo.
1999 Magdalena Aoteroa Festival in New Zealand with concerts and workshops in Wellington and Paekakariki, solo. Invitation to the "Global Interchange Conference: Artists in Conversation", in New York with support of the Ford Foundation.
Collaboration project with the Dimensions Dance Theatre, Oakland (USA).
Tour in Europe with the Trio, concerts in Budapest, World Music Festival (Hungary), Kalaka Festival (Slovenia), tour in Italy with concerts in Genova, Casale Monferato, Torino, Bologna. Concerts in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. With Bhatagumbo group participation in the "World Senior Theatre-Festival" in Köln/Germany. The piece she created was the main attraction of the festival.
Tour with her band in Zimbabwe.
2000 Solo tour in Rome, Sicily/Italy and at the World Music Festival Lahore (Pakistan). Quartet concerts at Expo 2000 Hanover (Germany), Int. Frauenuniversität Hannover (Germany), in Greece. Performed at the HIFA Festival in Zimbabwe with the Earthquake Band.
2001 Performed at the FESPAM Festival in Congo/Brazzaville with the Earthquake Band. Tour in Germany and the Netherlands with the Quartet.
2002 Publishing of CD Talking Mbira" CD by Piranha. Tour with the Trio in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium.
2003 Performed in North America, Canada, Australia. On the New Year’s Eve she was honoured with a 28 carat gold medal by Jenaguru Festival Company and in August the same year was honoured by the University of Zimbabwe with a Masters in Arts degree.
2004 Toured England with three musicians including Virginia Mukwesha her daughter.Performed in New York with Tiga from Haiti (Bonga Music) with his Voodoo drums, solo in California.
2005 Performed solo, in Serbia, England, Italy, Zanzibar. Recorded in Zimbabwe “Double-Check” for Piranha Records. Won the Zimbabwe Silver Jubilee Awards (ZIMA Awards) for being the Most Outstanding Contribution in the Music Industry and for being “The Best Female Mbira Player”
2006 February Solo concerts in: England, Italy, Germany,. Womad festival in Caceres/Spain. National Arts Merits Award (NAMA) for being the most outstanding female artist in the music industry and for being the ambassador of the Zimbabwean culture. the band (6 musicians) in Italy, Austria Portugal festivals and Womad Festival in Reading/England. In November solo Womad festival in Las Palmas/Canary Islands in Spain and in Zagreb/Croatia.

January, February and March shows & rehearsals with band in Zimbabwe.May recording in Ireland. July tour in Canada with the band. Solo shows in Germany and North America.
2008. March tour in Italy, Germany with the Trio as well as Solo tour in April in Italy.

2009. Solo at Brighton Sacred Music UK, Bonn/Germany, Zimbabwe, Berlin/Germany.

2010.  Solo performance in Berlin, Bonn/Germany. London, Whitstable and Wales.

2011. Performed with band in Zimbabwe and in Toronto Canada.   Solo show in Krakaw/Poland and Solo concert in Genoa/ Italy.  Solo at the Women's Festival in Germany

In December 2011 she organised a three days ceremony with 18 mbira players to honour the Earth.

2012. Solo tour in UK, Canada and Italy. She became a mbira teacher at the global music academy in Berlin Germany.

2013. She participated in the gathering of ancient ancestors of the Dande in Zimbabwe.

Performed with her band in Harare at the BookCafe and, a Duo show in Italy.

2014. Duo performances with Michele Longo in Italy. Solo performance for the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival. |Performances in Zimbabwe with her Band of six musicians.

2015. Solo tour in Italy, in Malawi, in England and in Zimbabwe. 

Last updated in October 2015.





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