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"Ndabaiwa" from Talking Mbira (Piranha)
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CD Review

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NPR Jazz, CD Review >>

NPR Jazz CD Review Stella Chiweshe
Talking Mbira: Spirits of Liberation

(Piranha Records)
Reviewed by Madeleine Smith
MUSIC INTRO: ["Uchiseka"]

MADELEINE SMITH: In the early 1960's, a young girl in Zimbabwe dared to do what few women in her country could only dream of doing: master the mbira, the ancient male-dominated instrument of her people. And on her latest release, Talking Mbira: Spirits of Liberation, Stella Chiweshe proves why she's now called the Mbira Queen of Zimbabwe.

MUSIC SEGMENT: ["Uchiseka"]

SMITH: I'm Madeleine Smith, and this is another CD review from NPR Jazz, made possible with help from the National Endowment for the Arts and NPR member stations. Born in the late 1940's in Zimbabwe, Stella Chiweshe learned to play the mbira as a teenager, during a time when female performers were rare, and branded as "loose women." The mbira, an African thumb piano has been used for religious and entertainment purposes for hundreds of years. And when played in traditional or Bira ceremonies, it is believed to be a way to communicate with the ancestors.

MUSIC SEGMENT: ["Ndabaiwa"]

SMITH: In addition to playing the mbira, Stella is lead vocalist and percussionist, and she's joined by several other vocalists and musicians. They everything from contemporary instruments like guitar and synthesizer to traditional African instruments like drums, clapping, shakers, mbiras, and gourd rattles or hoshos. And the sounds created are soulful and enchanting. "Huvhimi (The Vision for Hunters)" is a kaleidoscope of color -- pensive, intricate rhythms where the notes fall like raindrops.

MUSIC SEGMENT: ["Huvhimi"]

SMITH: On the liner notes of Talking Mbira: Spirits of Liberation on Piranha records, Stella Chiweshe speaks of the spiritual and healing powers of the mbira. Now, whether the music will take you to a higher place spiritually, that remains to be seen. But experiencing the vibrant, colorful, soulful, sounds will definitely take you to another place musically. You can hear this CD review and many others on our Web site: NPR For NPR Jazz, I'm Madeleine Smith.  10/07/02 >> go there
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