Stella Chiweshe Talking Mbira: Spirits of Liberation

Stella Chiweshe plays one of the world's simplest, yet most ingenious instruments. Known as the thumb piano, the mbira is Zimbabwe's spiritual instrument and Chiweshe is considered the Mbira Queen of Zimbabwe — a feat heightened by the fact that only men are traditionally supposed to play the instrument. Performing since the early ’70s, Chiweshe has built up a remarkable body of work and is the only woman to have her own band in Zimbabwe. On Talking Mbira she proves why she is both a respected traditional and contemporary musician with some songs based wholly on voice and mbira and others given the full afro-pop treatment. The xylophone-like sound of the mbira can't help but be both melodic and rhythmic giving a fullness and beauty (akin to hundreds of tuned water droplets) to the acoustic songs while the pop material relegates the usually ubiquitous guitar to the background in favour of Chiweshe's earthy plucking. This mixture of old and new, traditional and contemporary is Chiweshe's hallmark and Talking Mbira's spirit. (Piranha)