|Born||March 5, 1976|
|Died||July 24, 2013(aged 40)|
|Known for||Mbira Music|
|Children||Chengeto and Chiedza Brown|
|Parent(s)||Dumisani Maraire and Linda Nemarundwe|
Chiwoniso Maraire was a Zimbabwean singer, songwriter, and exponent of Zimbabwean mbira music. She was the daughter of Zimbabwean mbira Master and teacher Dumisani Maraire a former officer in the Zimbabwe Ministry of Sports and Culture in the early 1980s.
Chiwoniso also known as "Chi" was born on 5 March 1976 in Olympia, Washington State, United States of America (USA) and died 24 July 2013. She was the daughter of a celebrated Zimbabwean mbira player and teacher, Dumisani Maraire. He had moved to the USA to work in the ethnomusicology department at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her mother, Linda Nemarundwe Maraire, known as "Mai Chi", was a singer. She moved back to Zimbabwe where she attended Mutare Girls High School and took evening classes at the University of Zimbabwe(UZ), where her father was teaching. She was married to Andy Brown and the couple later divorced they had two daughters, Chengeto and Chiedza Brown.
She began playing mbira at the age of 4 years and recorded her first album with her parents when she was nine. She spent the first 7 years of her life in the USA. At 11 years she was performing with her father and her siblings Tawona and Ziyanai in the family mbira group Mhuri yaMaraire (the Maraire Family). She also played in her father's mbira group Minanzi III (Musical Sounds 3). At the age 15 years, she formed part of Afro-fusion hip-hop trio A Peace of Ebony, which "was perhaps the first group to fuse mbira with contemporary beats". one of the country's best-known exponents of the mbira, the traditional thumb piano, made of metal strips attached to a wooden board. She was celebrated for the way in which she modernised the ancient instrument, which had traditionally been used by male musicians, and for the way in which she used the Mbira as the backing for her own songs, which often dealt with social and political issues, and in collaborations involving hip-hop or jazz.
She was also involved in writing soundtracks for films and documentaries. Chiwoniso fronted her acoustic group Chiwoniso & Vibe Culture for several years. In 1997 she recorded her first solo album, Ancient Voices, which won the Radio France International award for best new artist. She joined a group called The Storm, a band led by guitarist Andy Brown (who became her husband and later divorced). The Storm became one of Zimbabwe’s biggest bands, touring the world and winning accolades.... Maraire’s firm voice and Brown’s plucky guitar made a beautiful combination. In 2001-2004, she was also a core member of the multinational all-women band Women's Voice, whose original members hailed from Norway, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, America, Israel and Algeria. Chiwoniso also starred in films, having worked on the soundtracks for movies and documentaries by an array of Zimbabwean writers and film producers She went on to record three more albums namely Timeless (2004), Hupenyu Kumusha, Life at Home, Impilo Ekhaya. The Collaboration: Volume 1 (2006), and Rebel Woman (2008).
Marriage to Andy Brown
When she fell pregnant and married Andy Brown her father expressed dissatisfaction.
Maraire was recognised and won a prestigious award Decouverte Afrique sponsored by Radio France International after releasing her debut album Ancient Voices in 1998. The album entered the World Music Charts Europe three times and brought her a nomination in the category of Best Female Vocals of Africa for the Kora Awards in 1999.
Ancient Voices (1998)
This is the album that made her receive the "Decouverte Afrique" from Radio France and got her nominated for best female vocals Africa at the Kora All-Africa Music Awards in 1999. The track list is as follows:
- Ancient Voices
- Look to the Spirit
- Madame 20 Cents
- Iwai Nesu
- The Way of Life
- Everyone's Child
Hupenyu Kumusha, Life at Home, Impilo Ekhaya. The Collaboration: Volume 1 (2006)
Chiwoniso teamed up with Busi Ncube, Adam Chisvo, Mashasha and several leading Zimbabwean artists in an ad-hoc band called The Collaboration to record this album. The group performed in Zanzibar's Sauti za Busara 2007 Festival.
Rebel Woman (2008)
This Album peaked at number 14 in the US Billboard Top World Albums. The track list for the album is as follows:
- Nguva Yekufara
- Listen To The Breeze
- Only One World
- Rebel Woman
Listen To The Banned
Maraire died on 24 July 2013 at South Medical Hospital in Chitungwiza where she was admitted with a lung infection. Chiwoniso died a year after her ex-husband Andy Brown had died. The details surrounding her death are not clear as her then Manager Cosmas Zamangwe said,
"She had been in hospital for the past 10 days suffering from chest pains. We are, however, still to ascertain the disease she was suffering from but we suspect it is pneumonia"
Maraire was laid to rest at her rural home in Chikohwa Village in Chimanimani.
Controversy surrounding her burial
People were not allowed to view her body as is the custom. The corpse was also denied entry into the Maraire family home in Bluffhill
- Chiwoniso obituary, The Guardian, Published: 26 July 2013, Retrieved: July 11, 2014
- Ropafadzo Mapamhidze, Multimedia: A tribute to Chiwoniso Maraire, NewsDay, Published: July 26, 2013, Retrieved: July 11, 2014
- Singer Chiwoniso Maraire dies, Nehanda Radio, Published: July 24, 2013, Retrieved: July 24, 2015
- Chiwoniso: Rebel Woman, All Music, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: July 24, 2015
- Drama at Chiwoniso funeral, NewsDay, Published: July 30, 2013, Retrieved: July 24, 2015