Chiwoniso - Rebel Woman
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Chiwoniso
Rebel Woman
Cumbancha (www.cumbancha.com)

It's good to see and hear a new one from Chiwoniso Maraire. I quite enjoyed her album Ancient Voices, which was released a decade ago. Zimbabwean by heritage but born in Olympia, Washington and raised there until the age of 14, Chiwoniso moved back to her home country after absorbing a lot of American as well as African music. It was in Zimbabwe that she got her musical career going, though marriage and motherhood took up much of her time in between the last disc and this one. Now she's back with an album of varied and confident Afropop built on a clear Zimbabwean foundation (mainly through recurring use of mbira as a starting point) reinforced by soul, funk, R&B, and Caribbean sounds. Vocally, Chiwoniso can handle the same hushed mysticism as Stella Chiweshe or more forceful belting a la Angelique Kidjo, pitting her youthful but accomplished pipes against rhythms anchored by drummer Sam Mataure (from Oliver Mtukudzi's band) and punched up with guitar, horn, percussion and keyboard support. While some songs go for a more obvious soft sell than others, there're no weak ones. Indeed, Chiwoniso's extended sabbatical seems to have strengthened both her musical chops and her perspective, if such tracks as the dance-inducing "Gomo" and the aching title song are any indication. And they are. - Tom Orr

CD available from cdroots

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