The groundbreaking Zimbabwean singer, songwriter, mbira player and artistic trailblazer Chiwoniso has died in hospital in Zimbabwe. Just 37, Chiwoniso had been suffering from a severe lung infection. The loss is immense, and deeply felt by a worldwide community of music fans.
Chiwoniso was the daughter of the legendary ethnomusicologist and global purveyor of mbira music Dumisani Maraire, and his wife Mai Chi, whose own death inspired one of Chiwoniso’s most beautiful compositions. Dumi and Mai Chi were instrumental in introducing Shona music to the United States, starting from the city of Seattle. Chi grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but later relocated to Zimbabwe, where she was, for a time, married to the singer Andy Brown. This bi-cultural life gave Chi a unique perspective on life and music, all reflected in her distinctive recordings–notably Ancient Voices (2001) and Rebel Woman (2008)–and her many concerts as a solo artist and with a number of bands over the years and around the world.
There is much more to say about this singular artist, who appeared on Afropop several times. For now, we simply wish to express our deep sadness and condolences to Chi’s family, friends, and countless admirers.