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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Chartwell Dutiro
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Musician: Chartwell Dutiro

Location: Ashburton, Devon

Instruments: mbira and vocals

Music: Zimbabwean/ Shona

HOW I CAME TO THIS MUSIC          WHERE I PLAY          A FAVOURITE SONG Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story


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Listen  Listen (5'12) to 'Chaminuka' sung by Chartwell Dutiro and the Ashburton Community Singers, accompanied by Chartwell on mbira and Tom Kegode on percussion

Listen  Listen (12'53) to 'Gamura Makaka' sung by Chartwell Dutiro who accompanies himself on mbira. From the album, Voices of Ancestors(Digital Music Archives, 2000)

Listen  Listen (2'55) to Chartwell Dutiro talk about his music


See Chartwell perform with a 5-piece band at Ashburton Town Hall, on March 22nd, 7.30 - midnight. Tickets £8.

There will also be a Zimbabwean dance workshop led by one of the members of the band, Anna Mudeka, on the same day in the Town Hall from 10.30 - 4.30. Tickets cost £15.

For information about either event call 07968 292711


'I believe music can build bridges between cultures. So here I am in Devon, a Zimbabwean missionary if you like, playing mbira in schools and community halls'

How I came to this music:

I started playing mbira when I was four at the protected village, Kagande, about two hours drive from Harare where my family was moved by the Salvation Army missionaries. Even though the missionaries banned our traditional music, I learned to play from my brother and other village elders. My mother also encouraged me as she used to sing to me. The mbira is a traditional sacred instrument of the Shona people, one of the main tribes of Zimbabwe. We play this music in ceremonies that last the whole night long. Some people sing, some dance and others get possessed by the spirits of our ancestors who give daily guidance to the living people.

The mbira is a small instrument made out of hand-forged metal pieces which are placed on a board covered with a metal plate full of sea shells. That gives it a nice buzzing tone. When I play I stroke the metal with my thumbs and right index finger. I usually place the mbira inside a calabash which is a gourd like a pumpkin. This gives it a fuller echoey sound.

Chartwell Dutiro and his mbira It was not easy growing up in a colonised country where the missionaries discouraged our ancestral music. For starters, I was called 'Chartwell' rather than 'Shorayi', my Shona name which means "You can underestimate me if you wish". They were suspicious of our musical gatherings which they figured were political meetings so they condemned the music as devil's music. Yet I more often than not missed Sunday school because I'd have been up all night playing the mbira. This music is every thing to me - you just can't talk about Zimbabwean history without it. We carry the spirit of our ancestors through the music. During the liberation struggle our people fled to Mozambique where they had the spirit mediums guide them through the music.

We sing all the time - if it rains we sing, if we want the rain to ease off, then we sing. When a baby's born we sing. If someone dies we sing. We sing when we're happy and when we're sad. I wake up in the morning with a song and start yodelling away with spontaneous lyrics about what I'll be doing that day or maybe about what I dreamed of last night. It's right in my soul and expresses exactly how I feel at a particular moment in time.

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