Zimbabwe has once again lost one of the best female musicians of all time. Her death comes as a shock to many including Muzvare Betty Makoni. In honour of her work she has created this post to thank Chioniso for inspiring many women and girls. She inspired many men and boys. To be a female artist is not easy at all. Chioniso played a traditional instrument called Mbira and it is very rare for a woman to perfect this instrument as she did. History of Zimbabwe should always include women in arts like her.
Muzvare Betty Makoni joins Zimbabweans and the whole world in passing condolences and posted this via her FB page `The story of Chioniso Maraire is very touching. I am moved. Her life could have been saved. Rest in peace. I honour female artists and I respect their struggles. Thank you for inspiring us with music. This is legacy that will be passed on`
The daughter of Zimbabwean artist Dumisani Maraire, singer/mbira player Chiwoniso Maraire specializes in an R&B-drenched style of African pop. But the vocalist, who goes by her first name professionally, wasn’t actually born in Africa.
Chiwoniso Maraire (5 March 1976 – 24 July 2013) was an accomplished singer, songwriter, and exponent of Zimbabwean mbira music. She was the daughter of the late renowned Zimbabwean mbira player and teacher Dumisani Maraire. She spent the first seven years of her life away from her homeland, Zimbabwe, as her father had moved the family to Washington State in the U.S. in 1970 to pursue a degree in Ethnomusicology. On her return to Zimbabwe she attended Mutare Girls’ High School.
Chiwoniso played a role as one of the most revolutionary mbira players crossing all musical borders with the instrument inspiring young Zimbabweans to play the mbira in a more modern and contemporary way. She did collaborations with countless musicians and artists from across the world.
On the album Ancient Voices (produced 1995) she melded the conventional and modern, sang in English and African languages, and used contemporary instruments and traditional African instruments such as the mbira. She learned how to play the instrument despite the fact that traditionally, women in Zimbabwe were not permitted to play it. The mbira, she said, “Is like a large xylophone. It is everywhere in Africa under different names: sanza, kalimba, etc. For us in Zimbabwe it is the name for many string instruments. There are many kinds of mbiras. The one that I play is called the nyunga nyunga, which means sparkle-sparkle.”
From Her Friend via Gender Forum Group on FB- ‘Amai fambai zvakanaka’, RIP Chiwoniso. Not much has been written about Mai Chi, as Linda was popularly known. She was a Development Worker, as most of us here are, as well as a mbira player. Her area was Early Childhood Education. She was one of the pioneers is development of the ECE curriculum with co-authored under SCF (US). She married early (in Form 4) and died young. RIP Maraire women.