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2008 - week 32, from 10 August - Chiwoniso

PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 5:59 pm
by Charlie
Seq - Artist - Song Title - Album - Country - Label - Cat no

1 - Chiwoniso - Vanorapa - Live in studio - Zimbabwe

2 - Four Brothers - Rudo Imoto - Zimbabwe Frontline - Zimbabwe - Earthworks - CDEWV9

3 - Chiwoniso - Matsotsi - Rebel Woman - Zimbabwe - Cumbancha - CMB-CD8

4 - Chiwoniso - Rebel Woman - Live in studio - Zimbabwe


This programme with the Zimbabwean singer Chiwoniso was recorded on June 25, in the knowledge that it would not go out until now. We were walking on eggshells in our conversation, with me being careful not to ask any question that might provoke Chiwoniso into saying something she would rather not have heard back home, and both of us implicitly wondering, what might the conditions be like by the time the programme went out? Would the same President still be there? One thing was sure, even if nothing else changed, the currency would continue to spiral – upwards in numbers, downwards in value.

I first ran across Chiwoniso ten years ago, when her debut album was released on the French Lusafrica label (better known for its Cape Verde artists, most notably Cesaria Evora). When she made a brief visit to London that year, we spoke on the phone, hoping to fit in a meeting at Radio London, but dates didn’t match and we had no further contact until now. Meanwhile I occasionally played her touching version of a Kris Kristofferson song on a fund-raising album released by a Norwegian label.


In person, Chiwoniso is as self-possessed and interesting to talk to as I had expected, and she created a haunting mood as she sang and played her large mbira. Actually, the thumb piano is a normal size – it’s the circular soundbox that is large, typical of the kind played in neighbouring Mozambique.

The album Rebel Woman is consistently strong and will belatedly draw recognition for one of Southern Africa's most impressive artists.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:02 pm
by Chris P
Ace programme ! I really enjoy these shows where you have a studio guest, it adds a lot of atmosphere which a diet of recorded music on disc lacks. We can all program our own Cds and mp3 players whilst checking out radio & other playlists, but it's shows like this that keep radio something special.
I'm so pleased that mbira music is back on the airwaves and stages with Zuzana Novak and Chiwoniso, after a period where it went under the radar.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 2:10 pm
by Adam Blake
Beautiful sound. Strange to hear her singing in English in the last song. More to do with one's own responses than to what she's doing. When she's singing in her own language and I don't understand the words it has a completely different effect. In English I start instantly making comparisons with - Tracy Chapman, Joan Armatrading - you get the picture. But that thumb piano sound... So easy to fall in love with.


PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 7:51 pm
by Charlie
email from:

1. Coglan A. ROSS, Georgetown, Guyana

I totally enjoy your choices of music from around the Globe.


2.Arnaud Ntirenganya Emmanuel, Rwandan in Cameroon

Hi Charlie,

It was wonderful to hear a Zimbabwean woman sing, but it was like Charlie Gillett's Zimbabwe of music not of music!


3. romey buchheit, Marlborough Wiltshire

I usually fall asleep to the World Service and I did so again last night... Chiwoniso's voice and mbira music floated through my dreams of my beloved Zimbabwe, and I have just listened again (awake) with great pleasure!

Tatenda, Sisi!


4. Mary Allen, Penzance

woke up to the most amazing music on the 10th , thank you charlie for a great program


5. Martin Ella, Beaune, France

i would like to know if chiwoniso is planning a tour of france . also if there is a way of getting in touch with her thanking you in advance and thanks to charlie gillet for such a great programme


6. Alan Clarke

I've listened to the World Service for a number of years. Charlie's programme was one I was tempted to turn off. Gradually, I learnt to listen beyond the language and to listen to the world of music. This week's programme featuring Chiwoniso prompted me to find out more about her as an artist.

Thank you


7. Marie (via MySpace)

Really enjoyed Chiwoniso last night and hope to get hold of her music. Thanks for the early hours company and introduction to some great artists.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:24 pm
by Charlie
Chris Potts wrote: I really enjoy these shows where you have a studio guest, it adds a lot of atmosphere which a diet of recorded music on disc lacks. We can all program our own CDs and mp3 players whilst checking out radio & other play lists, but it's shows like this that keep radio something special.

Judging from all the emails and comments that have followed yours, Chris, many agree with you about these live shows.

I had an instinct that they would be a nice contrast every now and then, and in the past had great reaction from listeners to shows with Carolina Herrera, Seasick Steve and Bassekou Kouyate's group.

But then the word came down from above, that people in the management at the World Service didn't like these sessions, they just wanted to hear me and the records. I shrugged my shoulders and went back to the simple format.

But recently there has been a changing of the guard in the management and now the comment from above was, why don't you do some sessions, they would make a nice change?

Coming up soon, a conversation with Sir Victor Uwaifo, who will be in a studio in Lagos to talk about his career and, in particular, the newly released collection of his 1970s recordings on Soundway, Guitar Boy Superstar.

How to get a copy of the program?

PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2008 5:56 am
by Daniel Hazen
I am a summer fire lookout in NW Colorado and, on the night of August 29, I woke up in the dark and turned on my radio which was tuned to NPR and heard the most hauntingly beautiful music it seems I had ever heard. It was Chiwoniso singing live in studio.

I've searched the internet and heard snippets from all Chiwoniso's 3 CDs but wasn't able to recognize any of the songs as the one I heard that night. The program song listing, however, indicates all three songs she did were from the Rebel Woman CD. Maybe the simple live acoustic rendering made it too difficult for me to identify the studio version.

Can anyone tell me whether it is possible to get a copy of the program or at least that one song? (A friend who I told about this went and bought Rebel Woman and loves it!)