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"Ndabaiwa" from Talking Mbira (Piranha)
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Zimbabwe's mbira queen

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United Press International, Zimbabwe's mbira queen >>

Stella Chiweshe, the undisputed queen of mbira ("thumb piano"), is on a solo tour this month that includes a showcase at Joe's Pub in New York Monday.  Singing songs of personal and spiritual liberation, in her hauntingly delicate voice, Chiweshe traverses the valleys of mourning, loss, despair and finally redemption.  Playing the millennium-old mbira, Zimbabwe's indigenous instrument used to summon spirits and spiritual guardians, Chiweshe's masterful technique, regal stage presence and deep spiritual intimacy providers her audience with a transformative experience.  In addition to the New York gig, Chiweshe's tour includes Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, and six New Mexico dates before wrapping up Feb. 21 in Cambridge, Mass., at the First Church in Cambridge Congregational.  

The mbira has between 22 and 28 metal keys mounted on a wooden soundboard that has been used by the Shona people of Zimbabwe for more than 1,000 years to call upon their ancestors and spiritual guardians for advice, blessings and protection.  Chiweshe's eighth album, "Talking Mbira-Spirits of Liberation," demonstrates her versatility from the powerful song "Musandifungise" to the high energy marimba/mbira combination "Manja."

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