Zimbabwe's political and economic turmoil has thrust the turbulent African nation into international headlines. Based until recently in the capital city of Harare, Chiwoniso has lived in the eye of the storm, observing firsthand as her beloved homeland struggles to overcome the enduring legacies of colonialism, war, social inequality and political oppression. A devoted advocate of free speech, human rights and social justice, Chiwoniso's music gives voice to the voiceless and speaks to the problems and joys of the world around her. With a sound that recalls the fire of Angelique Kidjo, the inspiration of Oliver Mtukudzi, the rebellion of Thomas Mapfumo and the soul of India.Aire, Chiwoniso is one of the most exciting talents in African music today.

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A Rebel Woman Fights Her Last Battle - Chiwoniso Dies At Age 37

July 25, 2013 — 

I am saddened to report that the singer and mbira player Chiwoniso Maraire passed away yesterday in Zimbabwe. She was 37 and died after spending 10 days in a hospital in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe where she had sought treatment for chest pains caused by a lung infection.


I heard the news yesterday afternoon from Keith Farquharson, Chi's producer and close collaborator on the Cumbancha album Rebel Woman.


Chi and Keith came to the Cumbancha studio in Vermont during the summer of 2007 to record additional tracks and mix the album Rebel Woman. Chi and Keith stayed at my mother's house in nearby Burlington during the session. It was a beautiful Vermont summer and we spent some nice times together enjoying the lush Green Mountains while working on the album.


Chi returned to Vermont the following summer to rehearse with a newly formed band created for the album release tour. We rented a beautiful old house on the banks of Lake Champlain for the band, which included Chi's brother Tendai and sister Tawona. Rehearsals took place in Middlebury at the home of musician and sound technician Ron Rost. While the rehearsals and subsequent tour had many challenges, they were filled with excitement and memorable moments.


After trying for a while to make a life for her and her daughters in the United States Chi decided to return to Zimbabwe. Since then we emailed each other and spoke on the phone occasionally, notably after the recent deaths of her ex-husband Andy Brown and close musical collaborator Adam Chisvo. I had no idea she was ill and news of her death came as a total shock.


Chi was a loving mother, a passionate personality and a truly gifted artist. I will miss her deeply and send my condolences to Chi's two daughters, brothers, sisters and other family members. It was an honor and privilege to have had the opportunity to work with such a talented musician.


Jacob Edgar

Cumbancha President 


Chiwoniso Maraire (1976-2013)

Photo by Bugs Steffen