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"Ndabaiwa" from Talking Mbira (Piranha)
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Talking Mbira (Piranha)
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Stella Chiweshe

One of Africa’s most revered artists, Mbira master and singer Stella Chiweshe, is here from Zimbabwe. She and her band will be at Ashkenaz on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 9 p.m., $12 advance, $14 at the door. A pioneer as the first well-known woman instrumentalist in the all-male griot tradition of the Shona people, Chiweshe is known worldwide as The Queen of Mbira, the thumb piano mounted inside a hollowed gourd with resonators attached. Since 1983 when she began touring, Chiweshe has used her music as a means of singing out about human rights, national sovereignty and women’s empowerment. She is the only woman bandleader in Zimbabwe, helped organize the Zimbabwe Musicians Union and since 1993 has been director of the Mother Earth Trust-Network of Female Artists in Zimbabwe. Ashkenaz is located at 1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, (510) 525-5024,

The Chiweshe concert is a first in a monthlong series of African music. Friday, Aug. 8, visit the Congo with the Soukous Stars, 9:30 pm, $18. Saturday, Aug. 9, the Carribbean Allstars, 9:30 pm, $13, are bringing reggae music to the stage. Then Wednesday, Aug. 13, from Senegal, Pape & Cheikh with DJ Omar will rock the house. You don’t want to miss any of the bands this month. Visit the website or call for a complete listing of upcoming events. Ashkenaz is always all ages.

                                                                     By Wanda Sabir

 08/06/03 >> go there
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