ZIMBABWEAN mbira star Chiwoniso has done the seemingly impossible. Her latest album, Rebel Woman, has been in the top twenty of the World Music Charts Europe (WMCE) for three months now- and last month (Dec 2008) it moved to the internationally coveted number one position.
The fairy tale doesn’t end there- this month the album has fought off stiff competition from artists all over the world and retains the top spot on the charts.
The World Music Charts Europe are based on cut-throat monthly polls taken of world music radio programmers in twenty-three European countries.
In August last year Chiwoniso and her children relocated to Southern California in the United States of America. Her sister and her family are based there. According to a press release from her new recording label Cumbancha, Zimbabwe remains home for the mbira diva and the move is “temporary”.
“Zimbabwe is my heart and soul,” emphasises Chiwoniso. “I am keeping 90 percent of my stuff there… the house and property. I am not running away, I am shifting base because it’s difficult there.”
She has already formed a band in the US, which backed her on a tour of the US at the end of last year. Joining her on stage were her brother Tendai Maraire and sister Tawona Gatson, both of whom were also immersed since early childhood in Zimbabwean traditional music by their father, Dumisani Maraire.
Rebel Woman was released under the Cumbancha label first in the US and then in Europe and the World in the last quarter of 2008. It is her third album after Ancient Voices in 2001 and Timeless in 2004. She has also taken part in a number of compilation albums with other artists.
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