“Zvichapera” is the last recording ever made by singer/songwriter and champion of Zimbabwean mbira music Chiwoniso Maraire, who died in 2013 at the age of 37 from suspected pneumonia. Listening to the track, it is immediately apparent just why the young songstress had such a huge impact on the world music scene given her all too short lifespan.
The daughter of Zimbabwean mbira master Dumisani Maraire, known as “Chi” by her myriad fans around the world, drew attention for mastering and modernising the thumb piano, long considered to be a male musician’s instrument. She also stood out for her outspoken attitude towards social injustices.
Appropriately, during a week that has thrown a spotlight on police brutality around the globe, we recall one of her most prominent statements: “To beat people, to threaten people, to put a person in a situation where they have to think for the next five hours about whether or not they are going to be okay – is a very, very bad thing to do.”
Released on 12” vinyl and digital platforms this week, “Zvichapera” demonstrates the intricate instrumental skills and soul-stirring vocal prowess of a musician sadly taken from us at the height of her artistry.