Many artists claim that they play “trance music”, but Zimbabwe’s Stella Chiweshe is the real thing. Parts of her repertoire are taken straight from the religious rituals of the Shona people. In Zimbabwe the sound of the mbira (thumb piano) is heard at nocturnal spiritual gatherings during which contact is made with the spirits of the ancestors.
While still in her teens Stella Chiweshe learned to play this magical instrument, despite the fact that it was not the done thing for a woman to play it and that under the colonial government these night-time gatherings were forbidden. Now, 50 years later, Stella Chiweshe has been crowned Queen of the Mbira in Zimbabwe. For her the 23 keys of her thumb piano are 23 separate voices and her texts frequently originate from her visions and dreams.